Fish Oil Enhances Efficacy of Chemotherapy and Improved Response Rate

Fish oil, when combined with chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer, significantly enhanced the efficacy of the chemotherapy and improved response rate when compared to those simply receiving the standard therapy, according to research published in ‘Cancer 2011′.
Palliative chemotherapy is aimed at increasing survival and palliating symptoms. However, the response rate to first-line chemotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is less than 30%. Experimental studies have shown that supplementation with fish oil (FO) can increase chemotherapy efficacy without negatively affecting non-target tissue. This study evaluated whether the combination of FO and chemotherapy (carboplatin with vinorelbine or gemcitabine) provided a benefit over standard of care (SOC) on response rate and clinical benefit from chemotherapy in patients with advanced NSCLC.


Forty-six patients completed the study, n = 31 in the SOC group and n = 15 in the FO group. Patients in the FO group received 2.5 g EPA + DHA/day.

Response to chemotherapy was determined by clinical examination and imaging. Response rate was defined as the sum of complete response plus partial response, and clinical benefit was defined as the sum of complete response, partial response, and stable disease divided by the number of patients.
Toxicities were graded by a nurse before each chemotherapy cycle. Survival was calculated 1 year after study enrollment.


Patients in the FO group had an increased response rate and greater clinical benefit compared with the SOC group (60.0% vs 25.8%, P = .008; 80.0% vs 41.9%, P = .02, respectively). The incidence of dose-limiting toxicity did not differ between groups (P = .46). One-year survival tended to be greater in the FO group (60.0% vs 38.7%; P = .15).


Compared with the SOC group, supplementation of FO results in increased chemotherapy efficacy without affecting the toxicity profile and may contribute to increased survival.
Source: Cancer, Feb 15, 2011. PMID: 21328326, by Murphy RA, Mourtzakis M, Chu QS, Baracos VE, Reiman T, Mazurak VC. Division of Human Nutrition, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada