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Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 223–244 | Cite as

Omega-3 fatty acids: physiology, biological sources and potential applications in supportive cancer care

  • L. Pottel
  • M. Lycke
  • T. Boterberg
  • I. Foubert
  • H. Pottel
  • F. Duprez
  • L. Goethals
  • P. R. DebruyneEmail author
Article

Abstract

The impact of the Western diet on chronic diseases, such as cancer, has been well recognized. Dietary saturated and trans fatty acids have been found to play a negative role in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, while the beneficial health effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) have become widely accepted. Despite the current knowledge, n-3 PUFA intake is still under recommended daily intake levels in Europe. As wild fish, currently still the major source of n-3 PUFA, are facing a decline, alternative sources such as marine and plant (both natural and transgenic) sources are being explored. In this review we aim to provide an overview of the current biological sources of n-3 PUFAs, their part in normal physiology, as well as their emerging application in supportive cancer care, and more specifically in cancer cachexia, therapy-related neurocognitive dysfunction and distress. In addition, we provide a brief summary of currently ongoing clinical trials examining potential beneficial effects of n-3 PUFAs in reducing cancer(therapy)-related side effects, and describe future research directions.

Keywords

Omega-3 fatty acids Plant sources Supportive cancer care 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Our work is supported by grants from the Belgian Federal Government, National Cancer Plan (NKP_CA_04 and NKP_2122c_044).

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication.

Supplementary material

11101_2013_9309_MOESM1_ESM.doc (74 kb)
Supplementary Table 1: List of abbreviations (DOC 75 kb)
11101_2013_9309_MOESM2_ESM.doc (111 kb)
Supplementary Table 2: Clinical trials examining the role of n-3 PUFA on nutritional parameters in cachectic cancer patients (DOC 111 kb)
11101_2013_9309_MOESM3_ESM.doc (28 kb)
Supplementary Table 3: Clinical trials examining the role of n-3 PUFA on chemobrain (DOC 28 kb)
11101_2013_9309_MOESM4_ESM.doc (34 kb)
Supplementary Table 4: Clinical trials examining the role of n-3 PUFA on distress secondary to a cancer diagnosis (DOC 34 kb)
11101_2013_9309_MOESM5_ESM.doc (110 kb)
Supplementary Table 5: Clinical trials examining the role of n-3 PUFA for attenuation of cancer-related toxicities, as well as cancer prevention (Database entry date: November 2012) (DOC 110 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Pottel
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Lycke
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Boterberg
    • 2
  • I. Foubert
    • 3
  • H. Pottel
    • 4
  • F. Duprez
    • 2
  • L. Goethals
    • 1
  • P. R. Debruyne
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Cancer CenterGeneral Hospital GroeningeKortrijkBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Subfaculty of SciencesCatholic University of Leuven KulakKortrijkBelgium
  4. 4.Subfaculty of MedicineCatholic University of Leuven KulakKortrijkBelgium

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