Taking omega-3 supplements boosts cancer treatments’ ability to cure disease

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Taking fish oil pills — which contain omega-3 fatty acids — could help immunotherapy drugs cure cancer, a new study reveals.

Researchers found omega-3 supplements boost these drugs’ ability to attack tumors. In experiments with mice, the combination slashed cancer’s spread through the body by two-thirds. Lead author Abigail Kelly, a research assistant at Harvard University, describes the results as “very promising.”

“Dietary interventions can be powerful tools because they are relatively simple and inexpensive to implement,” Kelly says in a media release. “Our findings show that omega-3 supplementation has the potential to broadly improve immunotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs in the clinical setting.”

Medications which stimulate the body’s own immune system have revolutionized cancer treatment. However, they don’t work for everyone.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements typically come in three forms: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Individuals looking to consume more healthy fatty acids via food should eat more oily fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and related oils. Some foods like eggs and milk are often fortified with the three types of omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies have suggested that consuming these foods reduce cancer risk. They’re also readily available as over-the-counter supplements, with a global annual market worth billions of dollars.

Omega-6 has the opposite effect on cancer

The new study reveals omega-3 increases the effectiveness of immunotherapy and anti-inflammatory cancer drugs. Aggressive tumors in treated lab rodents shrunk by 67 percent when researchers added the fatty acids to the animals’ standard diets.

Scientists believe they act in tandem, making the combined effect greater than the sum of its parts. On the other hand, mice consuming fatty acids from meat and eggs, known as omega-6, saw negative results.

“We demonstrated, for the first time, that the combination of immunotherapy and anti-inflammatory treatment (sEHi) was more effective when mice were fed diets enriched with omega-3 fatty acids,” Kelly reports. “This is very promising because dietary supplementation is easy to implement for cancer patients and can be added for patients already on immunotherapy.”

The researchers are now looking at the mechanism behind the anti-tumor activity of omega-3 supplementation. They are carrying out studies with human cancer tissues and cells, human immune cells, and animal models. The discovery offers a potential new treatment for patients.

Previous studies also point to fish oil supplements as being a beneficial substance for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers are presenting the findings at the American Society for Investigative Pathology’s 2022 meeting in Philadelphia.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

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  1. Regarding Fish Oil supplements, what’s the point of writing an article about how beneficial the DHA & EPA fatty acid components might be, when zero information is provided about the effective range of dosage levels? Be specific or the article is worthless.

    1. It’s been known that omega 3’s are helpful and omega 6’s aren’t.
      Searching the internet will likely provide a range. I’d stay on the low end of a recommended range or follow the advice of a knowledgeable professional.
      Be proactive.

  2. I had to bail early from this clip, even though the subject interests me.
    No patience for this guy’s bad jokes, that’s not what I’m here for.
    Also, I can’t take this obese man’s credibility on good health, what does he know?

  3. Omega 3 FA decretase the size of implantes sarcoma cells in WHITE rats. Study way periformed in the 1990. In MSK cancer center

  4. That means omega 6 must be helping cancer and omega 3 not doing much . Don’t believe a word of these studies after their cover up of covid . Do the opposite of what they want. Everyone knows the vaccines have caused so much cancer . I’m sure this is just a ploy to assist someone’s agenda again. The medicalprofession is in serious trouble. We now don’t believe anything they say.

  5. This isn’t new information. My father was a cancer researcher and has been preaching the benefits of fish oils vs cancer for years. In fact, in 2000, our neighbor and family friend was diagnosed with multiple tumors on his lungs. At the time, his doctors told him there were no viable treatment options and that he had maybe a month or two to live. He asked my father what he would do if in his situation and my father recommended changing his diet to include a substantial level of Omega 3 fish oils (DHA and EPA) and cutting corn and high fructose corn syrups out of his diet. Much to the surprise of all of his doctors, with no other forms of anti cancer treatments or surgeries, just taking fish oils the tumors first slowed in thier growth, then began to decrease in size. At one point, his largest tumor (originally discovered about the size of a 50 cent piece) plateaued and stopped shrinking,so he increased the amount of fish oil and then it started decreasing again. I am happy to say, our fried was declared cancer free, and is still alive today, 22 years after the terminal diagnosis. This is a true story. Our friend has shared his story with others who were in similar condition and who also have changed thier fates through fish oil consumption.

    Combined with anti cancer drugs, my father found that the Omega-3 oils (as this article reported) did have many positive effects on the drugs abilities to destroy the cancer. It also helped the patient to have less severe side effects from the drugs and helped them maintain their weight through the treatments.

    It is important to note that if you are already undergoing treatments to fight cancer, that you need to discuss taking fish oils with your doctors, specially if the treatment plan includes surgery because fish oil can act as a blood thinner.

    The quantity of fish oil (algae oils with high Omega-3 are also beneficial) depends on the individual and how much they can stand to take. Our neighbor started slow gradually worked up to taking multiple fish oil and algae oil tablets religiously 3 times per day.

    1. This is fascinating. You mentioned cutting out corn and corn syrup. I understand the corn syrup but what do you mean by cutting corn from the diet? What about non GMO corn products like masa?

      Also you mentioned “taking multiple fish oil and algae oil tablets religiously 3 times per day”. What did that amount to in grams?

      Cool story!

      1. The American diet is generally deficient in Omega- 3 fatty acids and high in omega-6 fatty acids. Corn oil is rich in linoleic acid which promotes tumor growth. The omega-6 fatty acids are essential, but in high doses can stimulate cancer growth, so limiting corn oil in the study lowered the content of omega-6 fat in the diet. An important consideration is the ratio of omega-3/omega-6 fat in the diet. In the case of the elderly man (DH), the ratio was close to 1. He consumed very high levels of 8 grams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 7 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day, which requires supplementation to achieve. This was published as a case report some time ago in Nutrition and Cancer 52(2):121-129, 2005.

        Regarding the research paper on the benefits of DHA and EPA, there was a review/summary describing multiple studies that showed that including DHA and EPA in the diets of experimental mice implanted with various tumors resulted in decreased tumor growth, increased response to chemotherapy and lowered host toxic side effects. This was published in Chemico-Biological Interactions 162:89-105, 2005 “Nutritional intervention with omega-3 fatty acids enhances tumor response to anti-neoplastic agents”. It’s an old publication, but sets the framework for the more modern studies involving diet and immunotherapy.

  6. I would also take Hedge Apple extract for cancer. Look up Maclura Pomifera on PubMed to see why. There are also many people who swear it shrank tumors, but no absolute proof. It’s full of antioxidants.

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