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Does the ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid to docosahexaenoic acid matter in cancer treatment? A systematic review of their effects on cachexia-related inflammation.

Nutrition 2024 August
Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of cancer cachexia. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs): eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are known to contribute to the reduction of inflammation, preservation of lean body mass and total body weight, and reduction of cancer-related symptoms, such as anorexia or neuropathy. This systematic review aimed to assess whether the ratio of EPA to DHA used in supplementation in cancer patients matters in the context of the resolution of inflammation and reduction of the risk of cachexia. The analysis included 20 randomized clinical trials with acceptable quality identified from the Pubmed/MEDLINE database. The significant results concerning the resolution of inflammation or improvement in nutritional status were the highest in the case of a low EPA/DHA ratio, i.e., 67%, and decreased, reaching 50% and 36% for the moderate and high ratios, respectively. Most results concerning body weight from high and moderate EPA/DHA ratios showed no benefit or were insignificant. A significant benefit in reducing any reported inflammatory markers was seen in the low EPA/DHA ratio subgroup at 63%, in the moderate at 29%, and in the high ratio subgroup at 11%. The greatest benefit in CRP reduction was obtained by patients during chemotherapy. The review questions the anticachectic and anti-inflammatory effect of ω-3 PUFAs supplementation with doses of EPA higher than DHA. A population that particularly benefits from ω-3 PUFAs supplementation are patients undergoing chemotherapy for advanced cancer.

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