Chemotherapy treatment blocked by fish oils, studies suggest

15 September 2011

Chemotherapy treatment is hindered by fat present in fish oil tablets, scientists have claimed.

Experiments using stem cells and the widely used cancer drug cisplatin at the University Medical Centre Utrecht demonstrated how two types of fatty acid were produced by stem cells in response to the treatment.

Published in the Cancer Cell journal, the research claimed these fatty acids caused cancer cells to become immune to treatment but are widely available in off-the-shelf fish oil products.

Although radiotherapy could offer an alternative, Cancer Research UK has advised patients to immediately seek advice from healthcare professionals.

"Cancer patients who are taking or thinking of taking these supplements should talk to their doctors to find out whether they could affect their treatments," advised Jessica Harris, health information manager for the charity.

The paper also outlined several drugs which proved effective in blocking the effect fatty acids seemed to have.

However, Ms Harris added that "much more research" was needed into the discovery.

Recent advice from World Cancer Research Fund's Martin Wiseman reiterated the fact that overall cancer risk in patients can be significantly reduced if people simply maintain their weight.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Voest, Emile, et. al., "Mesenchymal Stem Cells Induce Resistance to Chemotherapy through the Release of Platinum-Induced Fatty Acids". Cancer Cell. Tuesday September 13th 2011.

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