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Br J Cancer. 2013 Feb 19;108(3):486-92. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.586. Epub 2013 Jan 8.

Marine polyunsaturated fatty acids and cancer therapy.

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School of Medicine, Deakin University, 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds, Victoria 3216, Australia.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) derived from marine sources, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are widely consumed as supplements within the community. However, the use of marine PUFAs in a therapeutic context is also increasing in patients receiving treatment for a range of cancer types. On balance, the literature suggests that marine PUFAs have potential as an effective adjuvant to chemotherapy treatment, may have direct anticancer effects, and may help ameliorate some of the secondary complications associated with cancer. Although a range of doses have been trialled, it would appear that supplementation of fish oil (>3 g per day) or EPA/DHA (>1 g EPA and >0.8 g DHA per day) is associated with positive clinical outcomes. However, further research is still required to determine the mechanisms via which marine PUFAs are mediating their effects. This review summarises our current understanding of marine PUFAs and cancer therapy.

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