Article warning against fish oil during chemo

NikiMo Member Posts: 342
Hi folks,

I know that there is debate in the medical sciences on whether you should use supplements during chemo. Here is an article with new research around fish oil. A dutch team has found that using fish oil during chemo can block the effectiveness of the drug. They studied cisplatin so this hits home for EC patients. If you are using fish oil during chemo I would strongly urge you to talk to your doctor about this article.

12 September 2011 Last updated at 12:14 ET
Fish oils block chemotherapy drug
By James Gallagher
Health reporter, BBC News
Fats found in fish oil supplements can stop chemotherapy drugs working, according to researchers.
Writing in the journal Cancer Cell, they advise cancer patients not to take the supplements.
The two fatty acids involved, which are also produced by stem cells in the blood, lead to tumours becoming immune to treatment.
Cancer Research UK advised patients to ask their doctor whether they would be affected.
Scientists in the Netherlands were investigating how tumours develop resistance to treatments.
Fat shield
Experiments on mice showed that stem cells in the blood responded to the widely-used cancer drug cisplatin. The cells started producing two fatty acids, known as KHT and 16:4(n-3).
These fatty acids begin a series of chemical reactions, which mean cancerous cells become resistant to chemotherapy.
Using drugs to block the production of the fatty acids prevented this form of resistance which "significantly enhances the chemotherapy," the study says.
However, researchers warned that these fatty acids were "abundantly present in commercially available fish oil products". They showed that off-the-shelf fish oil supplements, given to mice, could stop chemotherapy working against some tumours.
Prof Emile Voest, lead researcher at University Medical Centre Utrecht, said: "We show that the body itself secretes protective substances into the blood that are powerful enough to block the effect of chemotherapy.
"These substances can be found in some types of fish oil.
"Whilst waiting for the results of further research, we currently recommend that these products should not be used whilst people are undergoing chemotherapy."
Jessica Harris, health information manager for Cancer Research UK, said: "This interesting study suggests one possible option for stopping cancers becoming resistant to treatment, but it is at an early stage and much more research would be needed to develop ways to halt resistance.
"The results also suggest that fish oil preparations may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.
"Cancer patients who are taking or thinking of taking these supplements should talk to their doctors to find out whether they could affect their treatments."
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BBC © 2011 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.


  • chemosmoker
    chemosmoker Member Posts: 501
    Not good anyway with active cancer!!
    Fish oil ALSO thins the blood!! I was told this when I was going to start using it in capsule or oil form, by my oncologist, and also can be found online as well.
    With any active tumors, this can cause excessive bleeding and is warned against just like taking aspirin or ibuprofen.
    Just another FYI.

    Great post Niki!!
    Thanks for spreading the word and sharing that one. I hadn't see that!
  • AngieD
    AngieD Member Posts: 493
    Don't want to protect those cancer cells!!
    This was an interesting explanation, Niki. We were told that, with the exception of a multivitamin and a low dose aspirin, no supplements should be taken with chemo. I know this is a controversial subject and, at first, I was alarmed since I've been a believer in some supplements. But then I read that taking antioxidants actually PROTECTS the cancer cells from the chemo. Sure don't want that!
  • mruble
    mruble Member Posts: 174
    Thanks for posting
    I saw this, too, and found it interesting. It seems like a lot of people swear by fish oil for helping to keep weight up during chemo. I could never convince my husband to take it, which may have been a good thing!

    caregiver to Chad
    diagnosed IVa in October 2009 @ 43
  • This comment has been removed by the Moderator
  • NikiMo
    NikiMo Member Posts: 342
    unknown said:

    This comment has been removed by the Moderator


    That is why I said there is a debate. I don't think anyone ever completely agrees on something when it comes to the treatment of cancer, doctors included.