Cancer patients face many challenges, which may include acquiring resistance to chemotherapy. It is often unclear how or why this happens, but one theory is that the chemotherapy becomes ineffective over time due to changes within the cancer cells themselves.
Researchers have identified two particular fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) made from stem cells in the blood that may contribute to some form of chemotherapy resistance. Researchers have referred to them as platinum-induced fatty acids and were able to induce resistance with minuscule amounts.
When under the influence of platinum-based chemotherapy drugs, such as Cisplatin and Carboplatin, these stem cells appear to secrete these two fatty acids, which in turn induce resistance. The body appears to have the capability to secrete protective substances in the blood that in essence protect the tumor from the chemotherapy drugs.
Interestingly, researchers made note of the fact that these stem cells showed signs of resistance to the platinum-based chemotherapy agents, but not to other types of chemotherapy drugs, such as 5-fluoroucil or irinotecan.
Shoud we be concerned if our cancer patients are taking fish oil supplements?
The two specific fatty acids found to be associated with this resistance are the same ones found in commercially produced fish oil supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Iím sure many of you have patients who incorporate fish oil supplements into their daily medication regimen due to the positive health benefits, including cardiovascular health, the prevention of inflammations and skin disorders, and possibly even the suppression of tumor growth.
Obviously, more research on this topic needs to occur before making a decision on the potential health risks. In the meantime, researchers recommend that these fish oil products not be used while people are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, especially a platinum-based regimen.
For more information, please read "Platinum therapy induces stem cells to release fatty acids, causing resistance."