Other indications and Omega-3
Anorexia-cachexia syndrome is a state that affects approximately 50% of patients with cancer, being associated with shorter survival times. It consists of massive loss of body weight. Its prevalence is higher in gastrointestinal tract cancers, although it increases as the cancer progresses and in patients treated with opiates.
The causes of anorexia-cachexia syndrome are associated with the production of appetite suppressant factors generated by the cancer cells themselves and by those of the immune system in response to continuous inflammation. There is a reduction in skeletal muscle protein synthesis and an increase in the catabolism of proteins and lipids (there is an increase of free fatty acid and glycerol levels in the blood). Carbohydrate metabolism is also affected, because cancer cells consume between 5 and 10 times more glucose than normal cells, and convert most glucose into lactate through glycolysis, and then again into glucose in the liver (gluconeogenesis).
Hormonal factors are also involved in cachexia, as they have an anabolic effect. Ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids (480 ml, 620 kcal, 32 g of protein and 2.2 g of omega-3 EPA) for 8 weeks by patients with advanced pancreatic cancer improved their quality of life and reduced weight loss by 92% in comparison to that at the beginning of the study (3.3 kg/month).
The results of the epidemiological data, in combination with the already proven effects of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids on cancer in both animal and cell culture models, have brought about the development of interventional clinical studies using fish oil or polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids for cancer prevention and treatment, as well as nutrition reinforcement for patients to help them reduce weight loss and modulate the immune system.
On the http://clinicaltrials.gov/ website a list of the studies that are being conducted and have not yet been published may be consulted.