I like to post stuff like this on the blog, because I never know how far reaching something that I post may be. This was a preliminary study, but if you know someone with breast cancer, it should be of great interest.
The results of a small clinical study suggest that omega-3 DHA (MAX EFAs from XCAP) may help extend the lives of women with cancer that has spread beyond the breast … by an average of one extra year.
Researchers based in Tours, France, recruited 25 women with breast cancer to participate in an “open-label, single-arm” study.
For the study, the women were asked to take 1.8 grams of DHA daily. They took the supplement for an average of 31 months.
Some women died very soon after the study started, while others were still alive eight years later.
The average survival time was 22 months, but it averaged 34 months in the women with the highest blood levels of omega-3 DHA, adding one year to the average survival period.
The authors noted that all 25 patients had particularly poor prognoses. In more than two-thirds of the women, their breast cancer had already spread to the liver – a particularly dire development – as well as to other places.
Although the trial had the limitations noted above, it also possessed features and produced outcomes that make the results significant.
First, the French team observed wide variations in the degree to which the women absorbed the DHA … and on average, the women with the highest DHA levels (measured by blood tests) survived the longest.
Second, they controlled for possible survival-influencing factors. And no factor other than variations in the women’s blood levels of DHA could account for the differences in survival.
This tight connection between DHA levels and survival duration led the authors to express optimism:
“Our data show for the first time that [adding DHA to chemotherapy] … has potential to substantially increase survival in metastatic breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy.” (Bougnoux P et al. 2009)
DHA is one of the two essential omega-3 fatty acids found in human cells and in fish fats. The other is EPA.
The human body cannot survive without both DHA and EPA, which it can either absorb from fish fats or synthesize – very inefficiently – from the plant-form omega-3 (ALA), small amounts of which occur in leafy greens, beans, flaxseed, canola or soy oils, and walnuts.