Should omega-3 fatty acids be used for adjuvant treatment of cancer cachexia?

Daryna Sergiyivna Lavriv, Pedro Miguel Neves*, Paula Ravasco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Cancer cachexia is characterised by a progressive loss of muscle, resulting in functional impairment and shorter survival. Therefore, omega-3 has been studied for its role as an anti-cachectic therapy. This systematic review identified studies published on use of omega-3 in cancer cachexia in order to examine the potential benefit. Methods: A systematic review of the literature using PubMed and B-on databases was conducted to identify clinical trials published between 2000 and 2015, to evaluate the effect of n-3 PUFAs on nutritional features and Quality of Life in cancer cachexia. Of 140 publications, 7 were selected on the basis of their methodological quality, according to the Delphi List. The collected data was summarized and written in text format and in tables. Results: Only one study, made in pre-cachectic population, show statistically and clinically positive intervention. No benefits were observed with the 4 g EPA/day, but a potentially clinically relevant treatment effect with 2 g EPA/day. Lung tumours showed the highest CRP levels and while the weight of patients with gastrointestinal cancer increased significantly, patients with lung cancer showed no significant response. Conclusions: Future cachexia trials would likely benefit from studying a single tumour type with earlier stage disease, with probably different dosage depending on the cancer type and its inflammatory profile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Nutrition ESPEN
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Body composition
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Muscle mass
  • Nutrition
  • Omega-3


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