Cochrane Summaries

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Using an omega-3 fatty acid made from fish oils to treat cancer related weight loss

Dewey A, Baughan C, Dean TP, Higgins B, Johnson I
Published Online: 
16 May 2012

There was insufficient evidence to support the use of oral fish oil (on its own or in the presence of other treatments) for the management of the weight loss syndrome often seen in patients with advanced cancer. Many people with advanced cancer develop a distressing weight loss syndrome. To date, treatment of associated symptoms has proved difficult. More recently, novel approaches have included the use of oral fish oils that can contain the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (or EPA) to stabilise weight loss and promote weight gain. This review of trials found that in weight losing persons with advanced pancreatic cancer, an EPA nutritional supplement was no better than a non EPA nutritional supplement. However, there was insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about its use in patients who have cancer of other tumour types.

This record should be cited as: 
Dewey A, Baughan C, Dean TP, Higgins B, Johnson I. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid from fish oils) for the treatment of cancer cachexia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004597. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004597.pub2
Assessed as up to date: 
14 November 2006