New research from Trinity College Dublin published in this month's Annals of Surgery points to a potentially significant advance in the treatment of patients undergoing major cancer surgery. The study was carried out by the oesophageal research group at Trinity College Dublin and St James's Hospital. A randomised controlled trial showed omega-3 fatty acids given as part of an oral nutritional supplement resulted in the preservation of muscle mass in patients undergoing surgery for oesopahageal cancer, a procedure normally associated with significant weight loss and quality of life issues.
The trial was designed by Professor John V Reynolds, Professor of Surgery at Trinity College Dublin and St James's Hospital, Dublin, and Dr Aoife Ryan PhD, a research dietitian at St James's Hospital, Dublin*.
Omega 3 fats are essential fats found naturally in oily fish, with highest concentrations in salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines. Recently food manufacturers have begun to add omega 3 to foods such as yogurt, milk, juice, eggs and infant formula in light of a body of scientific evidence which suggests that they reduce cardiovascular disease risk, blood pressure, clot formations, and certain types of fat in the blood.
Previous studies had found that nutritional supplements containing one form of omega 3 fat, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), significantly reduced weight loss among inoperable cancer patients. The researchers hypothesised that a nutritional supplement rich in calories and a high dose of EPA would stem the debilitating weight loss seen in patients following oesophageal surgery. The group chose to study patients undergoing surgery for oesophageal cancer as this surgery is one of the most stressful and serious operations a patient can undergo.
Professor John V Reynolds, Professor of Surgery at TCD and St James's Hospital and the lead researcher on the study said: "There are almost 450 new cases of oesophageal ca
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Trinity College Dublin