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Omega 3 fat reduces fatigue in breast cancer survivors

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By David Liu, PHD

Saturday Oct 20, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A study in Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that eating omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and fatigue in breast cancer survivors.

C.M.  Alfano of National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD and colleagues conducted the study and found fatigue associated with c-reactive protein and high intake of omega-3 fat relieved fatigue.

The researchers say prior evidence suggests that inflammation may lead to fatigue in cancer survivors and high intake of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was linked to reduced inflammation.  Therefore, is is potentially possible that increased omega 3 fatty acid intake may help relieve fatigue in breast cancer survivors.

The study involved 633 breast cancer survivors at a mean age of 56 years who participated in the health Eating Activity and Lifestyle Study.

Both behavioral and sensory fatigue scale scores were found higher in those who had increased C-reactive protein, which is indicative of inflammation.  But the association was attenuated after adjustment for other factors like medication use and comorbidity.

Specifically, breast cancer survivors with high C-reactive protein were 1.8 times as likely to suffer fatigue as those having low C-reactive protein.

Also higher intake ratio of ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to ω-3 PUFAs was associated with greater C-reactive protein and greater risk of fatigue after full adjustment.

The researchers concluded " Results link higher intake of ω-3 PUFAs, decreased inflammation, and decreased physical aspects of fatigue. Future studies should test whether ω-3 supplementation may reduce fatigue among significantly fatigued breast cancer survivors."

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