Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements may induce resistance to chemotherapy drugs, said a study by Dutch researchers at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands.
During the study, led by Professor Emile Voest, a medical oncologist at UMC, mice with tumors were injected with the fatty acids, described as “normal amounts of fish oil,” and then exposed to cisplatin chemotherapy – a widely used cancer treatment.
Usually, such tumors will decrease in size when exposed to chemotherapy, but in the case of the fatty acid injected mice, researchers noted that the tumors failed to shrink.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, also found that stem cells in patients’ blood produced the same fatty acids that desensitized tumors to chemotherapy.
Following his team’s findings, Professor Voest said:
“Where resistance to chemotherapy is concerned, we usually believe that changes in the cancer cells themselves have occurred. Now we show that the body itself secretes protective substances into the blood that are powerful enough to block the effect of chemotherapy.”
Voest went on to say that while the health-giving benefits of omega fatty acids are not cast into doubt by the new study, those under-going chemotherapy should not take omega-oil enriched supplements, during chemo treatment.