The new study was led by Dr. Emilie Voest, a researcher at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
Along with her team, Dr. Voest discovered that the fatty acids fish oil contains can interfere with chemotherapy in some patients.
The fatty acids affect the properties of fish oil in fighting the cancerous tumors. The researchers came to this conclusion after doing tests on lab mice.
Voest explained that consuming fish oil while doing chemotherapy can diminish its effectiveness by at least half.
But since the researchers run the tests only on mice they cannot say for sure how would the results apply to human patients who undergo chemotherapy.
Dr. Lauren Cassell, chief of breast surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, explained that it’s very difficult to extrapolate the study to human patients.
Some patients who are doing chemotherapy take fish oil because it might help them maintain a normal weight.
Dr. David Nanus, from the Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital, said that even if fish oil proves to interfere with the effects of chemotherapy, human patients would only be affected by it if they were to consume them during their chemo treatments.
He advises that just to make sure, patients should not consume fish oil or fish oil supplements around the time they are doing chemo. They should avoid taking it before, during and after the therapy, just to be on the safe side.
According to Dr. Nanus, more tests need to be done in order to determine if the fatty acids found in fish oil affect the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Dr. Voest said that patients who take fish oil while doing chemo must not think that it the therapy proves ineffective it’s because of the fish oil.
Fish oil supplements have not been regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, so it’s not certain how much fatty acids they contain.
The scientists detailed the findings of their latest study in the journal JAMA Oncology.
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