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According to a new research, fish oil supplements may reduce the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy, while a new survey found that many people with cancer were taking these pills.

Researchers tested six fish oil supplements and discovered they contained a specific fatty acid which has reduced the efficiency of chemotherapy in mice, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.

Dr. Emile Voest, the study’s lead author from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam said people who are undergoing chemotherapy should stop taking fish oil supplements and debate any supplement with their doctors.

Voegst and his colleagues estimate omega-3 fatty acids are utilized by about a fifth of Americans with cancer. Fish oil, which is often sold in capsules for about $10 for 100 pills, is the most common source.

The scientists had previously discovered that even a very small quantity of two fatty acids diminished the effectiveness of chemotherapy in mice with cancer. The fatty acids could enable cancer cells to regenerate themselves at a faster pace after chemotherapy.

The experts analyzed 400 people who were receiving treatment for cancer in November 2011. Of 118 people who completed the surveys, 35 percent said they were using nutritional supplements, while 11 percent said they were taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

The researchers had also given 10 or 50 milliliters (mL) of fish oil supplements to 30 volunteers without cancer. Levels of the ubiquitous fatty acid reached the peak after four hours, in the case of those taking 10 mL, while in the case of those taking 50 mL they remained elevated longer.

Eating herring or mackerel also increased the levels of the fatty acids in their blood. However, eating tuna or salmon had no effect.

The scientists recommend that people on chemotherapy should avoid fish oil, and also mackerel and herring, before undergoing their treatments.

the Dutch National Working Group for Oncologic Dieticians and the Dutch Cancer Society also urge people receiving chemotherapy to avoid fish oil before the time of treatment.

However, according to Stacy Kennedy, an expert on oncology nutrition at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, people should be careful about going too far with avoiding all omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds are an essential component of the diet that the body cannot produce on its own,

Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds.

Image Source: Cross Fit Jax

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