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Br J Cancer. 2011 Nov 8;105(10):1469-73. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.391. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

Influence of eicosapentaenoic acid supplementation on lean body mass in cancer cachexia.

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Division of Human Nutrition, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, 4-126 Li Ka Shing Center, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E1, Canada.


Cancer cachexia is characterised by a progressive loss of muscle, resulting in functional impairment and shorter survival. Eicosapentaenoic acid, an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid found in fish, has been studied for its role as an anti-cachexia therapy. Initial results of eicosapentaenoic supplementation in advanced cancer were promising with improvements in lean body mass (LBM), appetite and quality of life. However, subsequent larger phase III clinical trials reported minimal benefits of supplementation. Recently, several studies have used different study designs, which may provide insight on the effectiveness of eicosapentaenoic in cancer cachexia and also on potential sources of divergent results in previous trials. This review examines the potential benefit of eicosapentaenoic supplementation on LBM and discusses limitations with current studies to identify methods which may aid in progressing the research of future clinical trials.

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