Fish Oil Improves Chemotherapy Outcome in Breast Cancer Patients

A French study has shown that breast cancer patients who were given the omega 3 fat DHA while undergoing chemotherapy had a better outcome from treatment.

The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer and it used a daily dose of 1.8 grams of DHA.  According to the lead researcher Dr Philippe Bougnoux, “Our data show for the first time that a dietary intervention targeted on DHA is a feasible approach that has potential to substantially increase survival in metastatic breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy”.

Metastatic breast cancer means cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, bones, brain or liver.

Every year across the world, approximately 1.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  In the last 25 years. there has been a 30 percent increase in the incidence of breast cancer in Western nations.  It is the most feared disease for the majority of women.  According to the researchers in this study, DHA may improve survival by sensitising tumours to chemotherapy.

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid; it and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are the two omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil.  Typical Western diets are far too low in omega 3 fats and far too high in omega 6 fats.  This can promote inflammation, depression and increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.  The average person gets nowhere near enough omega 3 fat in their diet.

The omega 3 fats EPA and DHA are found in fish, particularly oily fish, and the algae that the fish eat.  Flaxseeds, walnuts, pecans, soybeans and some vegetables contain the precursor to EPA and DHA.  However, only a small amount of this precursor is actually converted into EPA and DHA, therefore it is best to consume fish in order to obtain enough omega 3 fat.  There are small quantities of omega 3 fats in omega 3 eggs and pasture fed cattle, however it is not possible to obtain 1.8 grams of DHA per day through diet.  A fish oil supplement is required.

Omega 3 fats help to reduce the risk of all types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, depression and countless other ailments. The average fish oil capsules only contain 120mg of DHA; therefore you would be required to take 15 regular fish oil capsules to obtain the dose used in the French study.  However, you can find substantially stronger capsules on the market, and most liquid fish oil preparations are stronger than capsules and have a pleasant citrus taste.

For more information on reducing your risk of breast cancer, or helping your immune system to overcome the disease, see our book The Breast Cancer Prevention Guide.

Reference: British Journal of Cancer  Volume 101, pages 1978-1985