Previous studies have shown that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids n-3 (n-3 PUFA) have several anticancer effects, especially attributed to their ability to modulate a variety of genomic and immune responses.

In this context, this randomized, prospective, controlled clinical trial was conducted in order to check whether supplementation of 2 g/day of fish oil for 9 weeks alters the production of inflammatory markers, the plasma fatty acid profile and the nutritional status in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC).

Eleven adults with CRC in chemotherapy were randomized into two groups: (a) supplemented (SG) daily with 2 g/day of encapsulated fish oil [providing 600 mg/day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] for 9 weeks (n = 6), and (b) control (CG) (n = 5). All outcomes were evaluated on the day before the first chemotherapy session and 9 weeks later.

Plasma TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-10 and IL-17A, the pro/anti-inflammatory balance (ratio TNF-α/IL-10 and IL-1β/IL10) and serum albumin, showed no significant changes between times and study groups (p > 0.05). C-reactive protein (CRP) and the CRP/albumin ratio showed opposite behavior in groups, significantly reducing their values in SG (p < 0.05). Plasma proportions of EPA and DHA increased 1.8 and 1.4 times, respectively, while the ARA reduced approximately 0.6 times with the supplementation (9 weeks vs baseline, p < 0.05). Patients from SG gained 1.2 kg (median) while the CG lost -0.5 kg (median) during the 9 weeks of chemotherapy (p = 0.72).

These results demonstrate that 2 g/day of fish oil for 9 weeks of chemotherapy improves CRP values, CRP/albumin status, plasma fatty acid profile and potentially prevents weight loss during treatment.