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Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids: more than anti-inflammation?

Prof. Maurizio Muscaritoli

Presentation Roadmap/ Summary

  • The aim of this presentation is to give a brief overview of omega-3-fatty acids as important regulators of cellular function.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential food components mainly derived from marine products such as algae, fish (blue fish in particular) and some crustaceans.
  • Besides their role as nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid in particular, are involved in the modulation of systemic inflammatory response by either counterbalancing the pro-inflammatory actions of omega-6 fatty acids or by promoting the resolution of inflammation acting as precursors of specialized pro-resolving mediators such as resolvins.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in cancer patients may contribute to the maintenance of body weight and lean body mass.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to:

  1. Understand the nutritional and physiological role of omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Understand the rationale of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation
  3. Recognize the role of omega-3 fatty acids in cancer nutrition

Key Takeaways/ Fast Facts

  • Omega -3 fatty acids belong to a family of molecules with different chemical structure and function
  • EPA supplementation in cancer may positively impact on clinical outcome
  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in cancer should be an integral part of a multimodal treatment ensuring optimal macronutrient intake and a certain degree of physical activity     

Key references

1. Calder PC: n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases. Am J Clin Nutr 83, 1505S–1519S, 2006.

2. de van der Schueren MAE, Laviano A, Blanchard H, Jourdan M, Arends J, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence for oral nutritional intervention on nutritional and clinical outcomes during chemo(radio)therapy: current evidence and guidance for design of future trials. Ann Oncol 29, 1141-53, 2018.

3. Daenen LG, Cirkel GA, Houthuijzen JM, Gerrits J, Oosterom I, et al.: Increased Plasma Levels of Chemoresistance-Inducing Fatty Acid 16:4(n-3) After Consumption of Fish and Fish Oil. JAMA Oncol 1, 350–8, 2015.

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