Chemotherapy? Avoid the fish!
Utrecht – Consuming fish or fish oil capsules may be a bad idea for cancer patients, according to Dutch researchers. In mid-September, a team headed by Emile Voest from the University Medical Centre Utrecht reported such products could prevent chemotherapeutics from working (Cancer Cell (20)3, 370-383). While investigating the causes for resistance to the platinum-based chemotherapeutic cisplatin, the researchers found that platinum induced so-called endogenous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to secrete two types of fatty acids that protected the tumours. According to Voest, the platinum-induced polyunsaturated fatty acids (PIFAs), 12-oxo-5,8,10-heptadecatrienoic acid and hexadeca-4,7,10,13-tetraenoic acid (16:4(n-3)) show some structural similarity to the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in two fish oil-based products. “We currently recommend that these products should not be used whilst people are undergoing chemotherapy,” he recommended. However, the findings also pave the way for new treatment approaches. When the scientists blocked central enzymes involved in the production of PIFAs like cyclooxygenase-1 or thromboxane synthase, they prevented MSC-induced chemotherapy resistance.