Marine phospholipids—a dietary approach to tumor-associated weight loss


Goals of work Advanced tumor disease very often evokes excessive loss of body weight. Among others, fish oil or marine fatty acid ethyl esters were investigated for treatment of cancer cachexia with controversial results. In this study, a new formulation of marine fatty acids was investigated, marine phospholipids, with more than 50% of phospholipid-bound fatty acids being eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA.)

Thirty-one tumor patients with various tumor entities suffering from weight loss were asked to take marine phospholipids (1.5 g/day) as softgel capsules for a period of 6 weeks. Compliance, body weight, appetite, and quality of life as well as the fatty acid profile in plasma and blood cells were monitored; 17 patients could be analyzed.

Marine phospholipids were very well accepted; low-dose supplementation resulted in a significant increase of EPA and DHAin plasma phospholipids; therefore, significantly reducing then−6 to n−3 fatty acid ratio. A stabilization of body weight was achieved (median weight change of +0.6% after 6 weeks), while appetite and quality of life improved.Conclusions These promising first results encourage further investigation of marine phospholipids in cancer care.

This is research written by Lenka A. Taylor, Lars Pletschen, Jann Arends, Clemens Unger & Ulrich Massing, published online: 29 April 2009 on Support Care Cancer (2010) 18:159–170.

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Dimitri Sclabos

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