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Lipids. 2012 Apr;47(4):383-9. doi: 10.1007/s11745-011-3643-0. Epub 2011 Dec 11.

Fish oil supplementation improves neutrophil function during cancer chemotherapy.

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Department of Physiology, Biological Sciences Building, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, PR 81540-990, Brazil.


Cancer chemotherapy is associated with neutropenia and impaired neutrophil function. This study aimed to investigate whether supplementation with low dose fish oil (FO), providing n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy after surgical tumor (mainly gastrointestinal) removal is able to improve the function of blood neutrophils. Patients (n = 38) receiving chemotherapy (5-fluorouracil and leucovorin) were randomized into two groups; one group (control) did not receive a supplement, while the other group (FO) received 2 g FO/day for 8 weeks; the FO provided 0.3 g eicosapentaenoic acid plus 0.4 g docosahexaenoic acid per day. Patients in the control group lost an average of 2.5 kg of weight over the 8 weeks of the study. The number of blood polymorphonuclear cells (PMNC), mainly neutrophils, and their functions (phagocytosis and hydrogen peroxide production) decreased in the control group (average decreases of approximately 30, 45 and 17%, respectively). FO prevented these decreases and actually increased body weight (average of 1.7 kg weight gain; p < 0.002 vs. control group), PMNC number (average 29% increase), phagocytosis (average 14% increase) and superoxide production (average 28% increase). FO may be useful in preventing chemotherapy-induced decline in neutrophil number and function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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