Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Lung Cancer

In a recent meta-analysis, Xin Tao and colleagues examined the capability of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) to address malnutrition and inflammatory reactions in patients with lung cancer undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In their record, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, the authors suggested that omega-3 PUFAs “can improve nutritional status and regulate indicators of inflammation” in these patients.

After a systematic literature review following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRIMSA) guidelines, seven randomized controlled trials on adjuvant omega-3 PUFA therapies for lung cancer were included. The pooled cohort consisted of  410 participants, 209 in the intervention groups and 201 in the control groups. The authors used random- and fixed-effects models to calculate standardized mean differences (SMDs) for relevant outcomes.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Cancer Treatment

According to the researchers, the standard mean differences (SMDs) for body weight change, albumin change, energy intake, and protein intake after the studies’ interventions ended were 1.15 (95% CI, 0.50-1.80), 0.60 (95% CI, 0.11-1.09), 0.39 (95% CI, –10 to 0.89), and 0.27 (–0.04 to 0.58), respectively. Additionally, the SMDs for C-reactive protein (CRP) level and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α level changes were –3.44 (95% CI, –6.15 to –0.73) and –1.63 (95% CI, –2.53 to –0.73), respectively.

Given these findings, the investigators concluded that omega-3 PUFA interventions may improve body weight and albumin levels in patients with lung cancer undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but not energy and protein intake. Notably, after observing the significant decreases in CRP and TNF-α levels in intervention groups compared to controls, the authors suggested that “omega-3 PUFAs may have some regulatory effect on the inflammatory status” of these patients.

This was the first meta-analysis, to the authors’ knowledge, that investigated the efficacy of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acidss. They noted their results were limited by the meager quality of the included trials and several heterogenous outcomes—including some with unclear sources—and called for higher-quality studies to validate their results and inform.

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