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Fish Oil May Interfere with Chemotherapy

Posted 4/16/2015

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  Back to the real world today. Our blissful retreat concluded with lunch yesterday, and I came crashing back to reality as there were problems with our tax return that had to be fixed before the Post Office closed. It turns out to be difficult, but not impossible, to hold on to the peacefulness in the midst of daily life problems. It was easier than usual to remind myself that these were issues that would not matter tomorrow, and then to move on. This morning I am still filled with gratitude.

  Today's real world topic is the concern that fish oil, a popular supplement, may interfere with some chemotherapy. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are aware that I have frequently written about the worries related to CAM (complementary and alternative therapies), including vitamin supplements. The core worry remains that these treatments have not been carefully studied, and we mostly have no idea if they are useful and if they might even be dangerous. Turns out, in this case at least, that those worries are well founded.

  Here is the start of an article from Consumer Health Day and then a link to read more:

Could Fish Oil Interfere With Cancer Care?

THURSDAY, April 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Fish oil supplements, and even certain fish, may hinder the effectiveness of cancer fightingchemotherapy, a new study suggests.
Dutch researchers found herring, mackerel and three other fish oils increased blood levels of the fatty acid called 16:4(n-3) in cancer patients. Experiments in mice have suggested this fatty acid makes cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy, the researchers said. But,it's not certain that what was found to happen in mice would happen with human cancer patients.
Experts noted that research on whether fish oil hurts or helps cancer patients has produced mixed results.
"Dietary supplements are not necessarily benign," said Dwight Kloth, director of pharmacy at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia,
who had no role in the new study. "There are numerous cases in the literature where nutritional supplements and herbal drugs have had deleterious interactions with chemotherapy."
Many patients begin taking supplements after they receive a cancer diagnosis, but concern is growing that supplements might interfere with anti-cancer treatments, according to background information with the study.
Christine Metz, director of the Laboratory of Medicinal Biochemistry at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, among those with concerns.
"Our research shows that when you affect the membrane of cancer cells by altering the fats in the outer covering of the cell, you can make the membrane stiffer or more fluid," she explained.
"These fats can make it more difficult for chemotherapy to enter the cell or make the cell better at pushing the chemotherapy out of the cell," added Metz, who wasn't involved in the study.

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