Omega-3 from fish oil: power from the sea
For the past few decades, dietary omega-3s have been on the rise for their beneficial effects on health, even for healthy people. Besides all the advertisements hailing its powers, there really is scientific evidence for many of the claims.
What is omega-3?
Scientifically speaking, omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that play important roles in cell membrane structure, membrane fluidity, cell signaling and inflammation resolution. Certain omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA and their metabolites are real key nutrients in a healthy diet. You can find them especially in fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon. They have been reported to exhibit multiple positive effects like anti-inflammation and lowering triglycerides. Regulation of cell death, inhibition of cancer cell and tissue growth have also been linked to omega-3 from fish oil.
The human body cannot synthesize omega-3 fatty acids by itself. They are essential for humans and, therefore, must be provided in sufficient amounts with the diet to avoid deficiencies. Unfortunately, omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable oil can only be metabolized to a very limited amount to omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA. This means supplementing your diet with these omega-3s is a reasonable course of action.
Why is omega-3 a helpful ally?
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been found very beneficial for cancer patients. The connection between omega-3 fatty acids and cancer activity is still a matter of interest in various studies. Due to the increasing evidence for the benefits of omega-3 supplementation in cancer patients, even clinical guidelines for nutrition in oncology suggest that some malnourished cancer patients at risk of weight loss should
"use supplementation with long-chain n-3 fatty acids or fish oil to stabilize or improve appetite, food intake, lean body mass and body weight."
(Arends et al. ESPEN guidelines on nutrition in cancer patients. Clin Nutr. 2017;36(1):11-48.)
Don´t forget to ask your doctor or dietitian for a deeper understanding of the nutritional benefits.