The principle of “complementary medicine” is combining conventional medical treatments with less traditional, possibly naturopathic treatments in order to provide a patient with the most holistic approach to healthcare possible.
While some doctors embrace complementary medicine, many do not. However, there is plenty of evidence that supports a complementary medicine approach, especially when it comes to cancer treatments.
Complementary Medicine, Fish Oil, and Cancer
One example of a complementary medicine technique that has been gaining popularity in recent years is fish oil supplements.
Scientists at the University Hospitals of Leicester in the United Kingdom conducted a clinical trial wherein they gave fish oil supplements to chemotherapy patients. The patients, who were undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, reported that the omega-3 fats improved their response to the chemotherapy treatment and greatly improved their quality of life.
In particular, the fish oil supplements lessened the patients’ liver difficulties and helped to stabilize the patients’ cancers.(1)
The Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This study is one of the latest in the slew of research that represents the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids serve important functions in cell membranes, influencing the ways that cells communicate with each other, as well as how they respond to changes in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also useful for limiting harmful inflammation. Some researchers believe that this anti-inflammatory effect helps to lower individuals risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease(2), and it may also account for the cancer-fighting benefits that these fats have.
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Getting Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids
As great as omega-3 fatty acids are for you, it can be hard to find them in the grocery store. Instead, most readily-available foods are usually processed with highly refined omega-6s – like corn oil, safflower oil and cottonseed oil. Omega-6 fats can actually cause inflammation when you eat too much of them, especially if you’re also not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids(3).
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and seafood, certain nuts and seeds, and olive oil(4).
You shouldn’t wait until you’re faced with cancer or heart disease to start getting these important nutrients in your daily diet. An imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats can have serious consequences: increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases and asthma, in addition to cardiovascular conditions and cancer. Plus, omega-3 fatty acids can help manage chronic conditions such as eczema, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis(5).
All told, there’s no downside to making sure that you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. If you have a hard time finding or affording foods rich in omega-3s, fish oil supplements can be an accessible alternative.