Can Omega 3 infusions help patients with advanced pancreatic cancer?

Omega-3 found in fish oil may help advanced pancreatic patients by slowing its growth, preventing its spread and preventing weight loss of the patient.

Pancreatic cancer may show no symptoms at the early stages so is not diagnosed until it is at an advanced stage. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are considered in its treatment. Some of the factors that decrease the quality of life for these patients are caused by cytokines and prostaglandins – these are inflammatory molecules produced by the body as a result of the cancer.

Omega 3 to combat inflammatory molecules in cancer

Fish oils contain high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to have anti-inflammatory effects. This has a direct effect on cancer cells, reducing the rate at which they divide, increasing cell death and making it more difficult for them to spread to other parts of the body. Early analysis suggests that infusions of omega-3 fatty acids appear to slow the progression of advanced pancreatic cancer. It also reduces weight loss as it is a good source of nutrition. Associated with improved quality of life, omega-3 infusions are relatively inexpensive, safe and well tolerated by patients.

This study was carried out at the Department of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at Leicester General Hospital. It was funded to investigate the mechanisms behind the benefits, providing essential information to support a larger trial – which may in turn lead to omega-3 fatty acids being adopted as part of standard care for patients. It is envisaged that this will lead to omega-3 emulsions improving outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients within 5 to 10 years.

This grant of £75,000 was awarded to Prof Ashley Dennsion at the University Hospitals of Leicester for two years.

 More information (links open in a new tab):

Pancreatic cancer

Omega 3 oils in pancreatic cancer