Heart Trouble
Please read this page for heart supplements and info and also please visit this outside link page which has some great info

Take all the information to your vet for review.  Both MaxEPA Omega-3 and CoQ-10 can help heart animals. My cat is currently on both for a severe heart murmur/enlarged heart. Her heart rate went from 245 to 185 after one month on both things. The canine heart study is self-explanatory. The cancer study is included because it shows how and why MaxEPA Omega-3 works. Both things can be given with traditional heart medications except as noted on the MaxEPA Omega-3. MaxEPA Omega-3 (Additional information)   

The only thing you should not give with MaxEPA Omega-3 is a Warfarin product (a particular type of blood thinner) as it may promote bleeding in the dog. If you ever do surgery on this dog, either cut the amount of MaxEPA given in half or stop it one week before and do not resume at full strength until after stitch removal.   

The amount of MaxEPA Omega-3 fish oil you give is 600 mg/kg. To figure the amount for a 60 lb dog, for example, you multiply 60 X 0.45 to get the weight converted to kg. So, 60 X 0.45 = 27.00 kg. Next, you multiply the kg by the dosage of 600 mg. So, 27.00 kg X 600 = 16,200 mg. That means the dog would get 17,000 mg MaxEPA Omega-3 fish oil per day (some will go on your fingers and some will stay inside the gelcap).

Do not heat the gel caps to make the oil come out easier!!  I would give half in the a.m. (in this case, the contents of 8 gel caps) and half in the p.m. (the contents of 9 gel caps). You do not need to give food with this.

I DO NOT give the dog the entire gelcap. I puncture the end and squeeze the fish oil into the dog's mouth or onto room temp. food. The reason is that some dogs get sick from the gel cap material and vomit it up. Also, this way you are sure that the dog is getting the oil. You don't have to wonder how much he actually got if and when the gel cap dissolved.  Most MaxEPA Omega-3 comes in 1,000 mg gelcaps. You can use any brand that contains the amounts listed below.  Each gel cap contains:   EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) - - 180 mg  DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - - 120 mg  Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) - any amount is okay.

MaxEPA Omega-3 Studies:  WELLPET KEEPER  Fish Oil and Heart Disease   "Fish oil supplements help thwart the loss of muscle mass in dogs suffering from heart disease, according to a study at Tufts Univ. School of Veterinary Medicine.  "We are very excited about these results," said Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist at Tufts. "My hunch is that a higher dose of fish oil might have even more of an effect, but we need to do more studies in this area."  Dogs with heart disease, like people, experience a phenomenon called  cachexia, or loss of muscle mass, that decreases strength and immune  function. When ill, the body produces elevated levels of hormone-like  substances called cytokines, the major one being tumor necrosis factor, to help fight the offending pathogen.  But at high levels and for prolonged periods, cytokines can suppress  appetite and cause a loss of muscle mass.  "People with heart disease have increased levels of cytokines, probably as a compensatory response to the disease, but this eventually can have  detrimental effects for the patient," Freeman said.  "We wanted to study this mechanism to determine if it could be managed  nutritionally, and it turns out that fish oil does indeed reduce cytokine levels."  Although veterinarians have observed cachexia clinically in their patients for years, the precise mechanism of the condition had not been studied in dogs before.  Freeman, who also is a researcher at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts, conducted the fish oil study in collaboation with colleagues from the veterinary school and the HNRCA.  In the eight-week study, 28 dogs with congestive heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy, a naturally occurring disease that weakens the heart muscle in some middle-age dogs and is generally fatal within four to six months, were divided into two groups. One group was given fish oil, and the other received a placebo. Both groups were also given appropriate medical treatments for their condition.  Fish oil is not a magic bullet for treating canine heart disease, Freeman cautions, but the Tufts researchers found a reduction in cytokine levels and an improvement in muscle mass in these animals.  "But even more exciting was the finding that reductions in cytokine levels were associated with a longer survival time," Freeman said. "We'll need to study this further, certainly, but it looks promising."  The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Hills Pet  Products, the Mark Morris Institute and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.  Reprinted with permission of Canine Times,, a publication of CFNA, Inc.

From The April 1998 issue of Nutrition Science News   Fish Oil Slows Cancer Cachexia  By Richard N. Podell, M.D.   For cancer patients with a poor prognosis, good news, no matter how slim, is still good news. The American Cancer Society (ACS), nationally headquartered in Atlanta, estimates that 29,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1998. Of those patients, the ACS predicts 18 percent will survive at least one year after the diagnosis and only 4 percent will survive more than five years. The slim bit of good news comes from research that shows fish oil helps slow or reverse cachexia, a condition of physical wasting and malnutrition often developed by cancer patients.1   Cachexia is especially common to pancreatic cancer, where rapid weight loss is often the dominant symptom. Weight and muscle mass drop off rapidly and out of proportion to the accompanying loss of appetite. Neither more food nor intravenous nutrition reverses the problem. Cachexia directly accounts for an estimated 10 to 22 percent of all cancer deaths.   Many experts believe cachexia reflects an increased metabolic rate caused by inflammatory biochemicals that cancer triggers. The best way to reverse cachexia is to treat the cancer.

However, pancreatic cancer does not have a safe, effective treatment. Pharmacological treatments such as hydrazine sulfate and ibuprofen may be helpful, but both have limitations, especially ibuprofen, which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.2,3   The Fish Oil Alternative In test-tube experiments, fish oils and their omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the growth of several types of human cancer, including pancreatic. Fish oil also inhibits certain cancers in mice and, through a separate effect, can reverse their cachexia.   This month's featured study is from the University of Edinburgh, Department of Surgery, Royal Infirmary in Scotland.4 Eighteen patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer received a daily dose of 12 1 g capsules of a fish-oil dietary supplement that contained 18 percent eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 12 percent docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).   All of the patients had been losing 3 pounds per month on average before taking fish oil. In the first three months of supplementation their average weight increased by about two-thirds of a pound per month. Eleven of the 18 patients gained weight, three remained stable and four continued to lose weight, but more slowly. Tests showed that the weight gain was not caused by fluid retention.   Both patients and doctors in the study were aware of the treatment. However, there are several reasons to believe the weight gain was not a placebo effect. First, the weight loss in previous months had been large and progressive with no reversal. Second, the fish-oil patients did much better than another group who were treated with intravenous gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a different type of oil. The intravenous treatments with GLA, given by the same doctors, were ineffective in reversing weight loss. Therefore, there was no significant placebo effect.   

The authors concluded: "Oral fish-oil supplementation significantly altered the progression of cachexia in a group of pancreatic cancer patients. Before supplementation, all of the study group experienced progressive weight loss; however, following administration of fish oil, three-quarters of the group were either weight-stable or actually gained a small amount of weight. It is unlikely that the observed changes in weight were caused by a placebo effect since administration of GLA to a matched group of weight-losing pancreatic cancer patients had no significant influence on the overall pattern of weight loss."   Limited Success  
The most important limitation of this study was its short duration. Three month's benefit is important, especially in an aggressive cancer like pancreatic. However, this brief reprieve should not give false hope. There is some reason to suspect that had the study continued, progressive weight loss would likely have resumed.   Why did researchers expect fish oil to help? Mainly because pancreatic  cancer produces an inflammatory state in the body. This can be measured by a blood test called C-reactive protein. Typically, as the cancer progresses so does the C-reactive protein level.

After one month on fish oil the C-reactive protein levels of test patients decreased by about one-third. This fits, because fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory effect. However, after three months of treatment the C-reactive protein levels had risen back to their high baseline levels. Therefore, we should not be surprised if weight loss resumed after four or five months.   The fish-oil treatment appeared to slow weight loss, however, we do not know from this study if it also affected the cancer. Unfortunately, no imaging studies were done to see if tumor volume decreased.   I know of only one other study that used fish oil to treat cancer in humans, and it measured tumor growth rather than weight loss. Among 12 patients with advanced breast cancer, tumor progression continued in 11. Only one showed a partial response to the fish oil. Animal studies using fish oil are encouraging. One study showed reduced cachexia in mice with cancer.5 Other studies showed fish oil decreased the subject's tendency to break down fat6 and increased the ability to preserve muscle mass.7   

This month's clinical study builds on an increasing number of animal studies that find various foods and natural products valuable in cancer treatment. These include: soy protein,8 melatonin,9 vegetable mixes,10 modified citrus pectin,11 curcumin,12 Co-Q10,13 cow's milk whey14 and shark liver oil.15   Having said this I want to make one thing crystal clear: Self-treatment for cancer makes no sense. People with cancer should work with an oncologist, or a physician specializing in cancer treatment. While many, probably most, oncologists remain wary of "alternative medicine," a substantial number are recognizing that something important is brewing in the nutrition/cancer literature. I know several oncologists who are talking to nutritionists about how to help patients. My sense is that oncologists are among the most caring and open-minded physicians. So if a patient chooses to add natural therapies to cancer  treatments, my advice is to ask both the oncologist and alternative advisors to discuss with each other how best to contribute to patient care.

CoQ-10
Brand to use is "Enzymatic Therapy" as they make a thick orange colored oil inside a gel cap. Cut the top of the gelcap off with scissors and squeeze the thick oil into the dog's mouth or onto the dog's food.  This is NOT given per body weight.  If you need information on amount given specific to your dog, please get in touch.

CoQ-10 Information:
Information from, "The Super Antioxidents" by James F. Balch, M.D., pages136 - 143, published by M. Evans & Company, Inc., NY, 1998.
Co-Enzyme Q-10 (Co-Q-10)

The Story of Gina Ferguson On November 11, 1997, ABC News aired the first in a series of stories on nutrition called "The ABC's of Life." The principal character of that first story was Fina Ferguson. John McKenzie reported: Gina Ferguson seemed much too young to be suffering from an enlarged and weakened heart. She was 24 years old, and she was dying "I couldn't walk to the bathroom without feeling I had walked a mile," she said. 'Shortness of breath to the point of gasping. The cardiologist they sent me to told me that my life expectancy was very short." McKenzie: "How short?"Gina Ferguson: "Ten days." Doctors already had put her on a variety of powerful medications. Now, running out of ideas, they suggested she try something very different. A little known nutritional supplement. It is called Co-enzyme Q-10. Dr. Peter Langsjoen, cardiologist: "It doesn't even compare to anything else. Its effects are so clear. They are not subtle. They are dramatic."

What is Co-Q-10?
So what is this stuff and why haven't we heard about it? Co-Q-10 is a vitamin, sort of. It works and acts just like other vitamins, but it has never been recognized as a vitamin officially because of squabbles about the definition of a vitamin. It was first discovered in beef hearts in 1957. In the mid-'60s, it began being used to treat congestive heart failure in Japan. Due largely to the efforts of Dr. Karl Folkers, research began in 1972 to show its benefits in heart disease. That research blossomed in the 1980s, after a method for producing sufficient quantities of it had been mastered in Japan. With increased production, it became one of the top five best-selling drugs in Japan by 1982. It is also known as "ubiquinone," a conflation of the words "ubiquitous" and "quinone." It is ubiquitous in that it is found in every cell of your body. It is everywhere. A quinone is a biological chemical responsible for creating energy.

Co-Q-10 and the Energy in Our Cells

Co-Q-10 is responsible for the cell's energy in two ways. First, it helps tocreate at least three f the enzymes the cell uses to create ATP, the fuel created in the mitochondria that is released and burned as energy. Co-Q-10 also creates energy directly, playing a role in the electron and proton transfers as energy passes through the mitochondrial wall and the cell wall. That's right, electrical energy that is released in your cells all the time is controlled in part by this sort-of-vitamin that you have never heard of. In addition to that, it acts as an antioxidant.

Where is Co-Q-10 Found?

Ubiquinone can be found in various foods, and it can be taken orally as a supplement. If you want to eat it, about a pound of sardines, two pounds of liver, or two and a half pounds of peanuts will yield about 30 milligrams of Co-Q-10. The dose used in most studies is 100 to 150 milligrams. How hungry are you? For the most part, your body makes its own Co-Q-10. That synthesis is a complex seventeen-stage process that involves eight vitamins (mostly the B vitamins) and several trace minerals. That means a lot of things can go wrong, resulting in not enough Co-Q-10 in your body.

Co-Q-10 and Your Body

To start with, your body starts cutting back on production of Co-Q-10 when you are about twenty years old. This does not make much sense, but that's the way it is. There are three simple reasons why you might not have enough Co-Q-10: you are not getting enough in what you eat, something is blocking your production of it, or your body is burning it up really fast. If you are really not getting enough of it in what you eat, you are probably malnourished and have a major vitamin B deficiency as well. So, let us assume that only applies to cases of serious malnutrition. If you are taking certain medications to block cholesterol formation, like HMG-CoA reductase, that would block Co-Q-10 formation as well. Similar to vitamins A and E, Co-Q-10 is a fat-soluble vitamin and shares certain pathways with cholesterol. This problem can easily be solved by taking more Co-Q-10 into your body with supplements. That's not theory: that is plain, hard fact. If you are a heart patient taking medication for it, you need a Co-Q-10 supplement. What does it mean if your body is just burning the stuff up like crazy? That probably means you need to slow down. Excessive bodily consumption of Co-Q-10 can only happen in cases of excessive exertion (running a triathalon every few days), hypermetabolism (going, going, going and drinking lots of coffee, taking pep pills, diet pills, whatever to keep you going), or acute shock states (you have just been hit by a bus). Karl Folkers believed that what we find as average or "normal" levels of Co-Q-10 are really "suboptimal." We probably all need more than we have. From the number of people I know who are going all the time and never have any energy, he is probably right.

Co-Q-10 and the Heart

Most of the studies involving Co-Q-10 are related to heart and cardiovascular disease. It is low in people who have congestive heart failure. The worse the symptoms are, the lower the Co-Q-10 levels are. When you give these patients Co-Q-10 supplements, they get better 91 percent of the time! What did that say? Ninety-one percent? Cancer treatments are considered really hopeful if they are successful in 25 percent of the cases. Minoxidil, the treatment for baldness, was written up as a miracle cure when it only worked on 33 percent of the men tested. Ninety-one percent is phenomenal!

The Basic Mechanics of the Human Heart

Mechanically speaking, heart failure usually occurs when the muscle responsible for pulling the blood into the heart's main chamber is not doing its job. Pulling the blood into the heart takes a lot more energy than pushing it out, so it is this muscle that is most likely to poop out if the mitochondria cannot make enough energy. It simply runs out of energy, then loses its normally tight muscle tone and begins to relax, causing the heart to enlarge. That then makes it very difficult for it to pull any blood in. Two things happen when the heart is not pumping enough blood: blood pressure rises (trying to compensate for the broken pump), and the heart muscle starts trying to work really hard. Your heart may start beating faster. If your heart begins beating faster and faster and yet it does not sense any blood going through it, there is a distinct possibility that your heart might have an electrical blowout called a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Co-Q-10 makes the heart pump more blood with each beat, the heart rate dlows down, the size of the heart muscle goes down, no more chest pains, and no more fatigue. Twenty different studies and over three hundred papers all agree on the effectiveness and safety of Co-Q-10. It reduces the risk of LDL cholesterol, the cause of atherosclerosis, and oxidation as well.

Co-Q-10 Can Be Used with Other Cardiovascular-Disease Drugs
Co-Q-10 can be used in conjunction with any of the drugs usually used to treat cardiovascular disease and it will not conflict with them. Langsjoen found that more than half of his patients with high blood pressure could stop taking one or more of their medicines within four months after starting Co-Q-10. He also found that of all 424 cardiovascular patients, 43 percent were able to drop one to three of their medications with ubiquinone therapy. Some patients, the ones who started treatments at the first sign of a problem, were able to regain normal heart function and size with Co-Q-10 alone. Consult your physician about adding Co-Q-10 to your treatment program.

Co-Q-10 Also Boosts the Immune System

The immune system is boosted also. Aging can lower the number of antibodies to about one third of the number found in young, healthy people. Co-Q-10 given to the elderly stimulates production of antibodies by two and a half times and can restore the immune system to about 80 percent of its original potency. It has also been noted that end-stage AIDS patients are remarkably deficient of Co-Q-10.

Co-Q-10 and Chemotherapy

There has not been much to associate Co-Q-10 with cancer, but boosting of the immune system is a start. It has also been found that the toxicity of the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin can be reduced by Co-Q-10. This has a significant effect on the ability of people to survive chemotherapy.

Co-Q-10 Benefits include...

1) generation of energy to every cell in the body; 2) prevention and treatment of a wide variety of cardiovascular diseases, including congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and arherosclerosis; 3) prevention and treatment of cancer of the breast, lung, colon, prostate, and other types of cancer; 4) treatment of several types of muscular dystrophy; 5) treatment of periodontal disease; 6) protection against cellular damage of excessive free radical activity; and 7) slowing of various aspects of the aging process, leading to the extension of mean lifespan in animal studies.

Co-Q-10 Dosages:

The recommended dosage in most of the studies is 90 to 150 milligrams, but many people simply do not respond at this dosage. Chances are that, if you are not responding to lower doses, the product you are taking is not being sufficiently absorbed by your body. The issue of bioavailability is important for all supplements: Does your body actually get to use all of the nutrient that is on the label? In Many cases, the nutrient bonds to other chemicals in the formula or is not even dissolved in the digestive track. Just because they put it in the pill does not mean the pill gets it to your body. Dr. Stephan Sinatra, in his Heart Sense newsletter, says, "You may be receiving far less strength than the label indicates and your less than energetic lifestyle may bear witness to that."Co-Q-10 seems to be absorbed better in the presence of brewer's yeast or RNA/DNA. Also, it is best taken in an oil base. I recommend a dosage range of 100 to 200 mg.

MaxEPA Omega-3

(Additional information) (Buy from a health food store.)The only thing you should not give with MaxEPA Omega-3 is a Warfarin product (a particular type of blood thinner) as it may promote bleeding in the dog.  If you ever do surgery on this dog, either cut the amount of MaxEPA given in half or stop it one week before and do not resume at full strength until after stitch removal.

The amount of MaxEPA Omega-3 fish oil you give is 600 mg/kg. To figure the amount for a 16 lb dog, for example, you multiply 16 X 0.45 to get the weight converted to kg. So, 16 X 0.45 = 7.20 kg.  Next, you multiply the kg by the dosage of 600 mg. So, 7.20 kg X 600 = 4,320 mg. That means the dog would get 5,000 mg MaxEPA Omega-3 fish oil per day (some will go on your fingers and some will stay inside the gelcap). Do not heat the gel caps to make the oil come out easier!!

I would give half in the a.m. (in this case, the contents of 3 gel caps) and half in the p.m. (the contents of 2 gel caps). You do not need to give food with this.  I DO NOT give the dog the entire gelcap.  I puncture the end andsqueeze the fish oil into the dog's mouth or onto room temp. food.  The reason is that some dogs get sick from the gel cap material and vomit it up.

Also, this way you are sure that the dog is getting the oil.  You don't have to wonder how much he actually got if and when the gel cap dissolved. Most MaxEPA Omega-3 comes in 1,000 mg gelcaps. You can use any brand that contains the amounts listed below:
Each gel cap contains
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) - - 180 mg
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - - 120 mg
Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol)  - 0 or 1  I.U.

I'm including two studies that show how MaxEPA Omega-3 works in heart dogs and in cancer people.

WELLPET KEEPER

Fish Oil and Heart Disease art the loss of muscle mass in dogs suffering

"Fish oil supplements help thwart the loss of muscle mass in dogs suffering from heart disease, according to a study at Tufts Univ. School of Veterinary Medicine. "We are very excited about these results," said Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist at Tufts. "My hunch is that a higher dose of fish oil might have even more of an effect, but we need to do more studies in this area."Dogs with heart disease, like people, experience a phenomenon called cachexia, or loss of muscle mass, that decreases strength and immune function.  When ill, the body produces elevated levels of hormone-like substances called cytokines, the major one being tumor necrosis factor, tohelp fight the offending pathoge. But at high levels and for prolonged periods, cytokines can suppress appetite and cause a loss of muscle mass. "People with heart disease have increased levels of cytokines, probably as a compensatory response to the disease, but this eventually can have detrimental effects for the patient," Freeman said. "We wanted to study this mechanism to determine if it could be managed nutritionally, and it turns out that fish oil does indeed reduce cytokine levels." Although veterinarians have observed cachexia clinically in their patients for years, the precise mechanism of the condition had not been studied in dogs before. Freeman, who also is a researcher at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts, conducted the fish oil study in collaboation with colleagues from the veterinary school and the HNRCA. In the eight-week study, 28 dogs with congestive heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy, a naturally occurring disease that weakens the heart muscle in some middle-age dogs and is generally fatal within four to six months, were divided into two groups. One group was given fish oil, and the other received a placebo. Both groups were also given appropriate medical treatments for their condition. Fish oil is not a magic bullet for treating canine heart disease, Freeman cautions, but the Tufts researchers found a reduction in cytokine levels and an improvement in muscle mass in these animals. "But even more exciting was the finding that reductions in cytokine levels were associated with a longer survival time," Freeman said. "We'll need to study this further, certainly, but it looks promising." The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Hills Pet Products, the Mark Morris Institute and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

Reprinted with permission of Canine Times,, a publication of CFNA, Inc. 509-332-3956. Anita Campus
From The April 1998 issue of Nutrition Science News Fish Oil Slows Cancer Cachexia


By Richard N. Podell, M.D.
For cancer patients with a poor prognosis, good news, no matter how slim, is still good news. The American Cancer Society (ACS), nationally headquartered in Atlanta, estimates that 29,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1998. Of those patients, the ACS predicts 18 percent will survive at least one year after the diagnosis and only 4 percent will survive more than five years. The slim bit of good news comes from research that shows fish oil helps slow or reverse cachexia, a condition of physical wasting and malnutrition often developed by cancer patients. Cachexia is especially common to pancreatic cancer, where rapid weight loss is often the dominant symptom. Weight and muscle mass drop off rapidly and out of proportion to the accompanying loss of appetite. Neither more food nor intravenous nutrition reverses the problem. Cachexia directly accounts for an estimated 10 to 22 percent of all cancer deaths. Many experts believe cachexia reflects an increased metabolic rate caused by inflammatory biochemicals that cancer triggers. The best way to reverse cachexia is to treat the cancer. However, pancreatic cancer does not have a safe, effective treatment. Pharmacological treatments such as hydrazine sulfate and ibuprofen may be helpful, but both have limitations, especially ibuprofen, which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

The Fish Oil Alternative In test-tube experiments, fish oils and their omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the growth of several types of human cancer,including pancreatic.  Fish oil also inhibits certain cancers in mice and, through a separate effect, can reverse their cachexia.

This month's featured study is from the University of Edinburgh, Department of Surgery, Royal Infirmary in Scotland.4 Eighteen patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer received a daily dose of 12 1 g capsules of a fish-oil dietary supplement that contained 18 percent eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 12 percent docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All of the patients had been losing 3 pounds per month on average before taking fish oil. In the first three months of supplementation their average weight increased by about two-thirds of a pound per month. Eleven of the 18 patients gained weight, three remained stable and four continued to lose weight, but more slowly. Tests showed that the weight gain was not caused by fluid retention. Both patients and doctors in the study were aware of the treatment. However, there are several reasons to believe the weight gain was not a placebo effect.  First, the weight loss in previous months had been large and progressive with no reversal. Second, the fish-oil patients did much better than another group who were treated with intravenous gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a different type of oil.  The intravenous treatments with GLA, given by the same doctors, were ineffective in reversing weight loss. Therefore, there was no significant placebo effect. The authors concluded: "Oral fish-oil supplementation significantly altered the progression of cachexia in a group of pancreatic cancer patients. Before supplementation, all of the study group experienced progressive weight loss; however, following administration of fish oil, three-quarters of the group were either weight-stable or actually gained a small amount of weight. is unlikely that the observed changes in weight were caused by a placebo effect since administration of GLA to a matched group of weight-losing pancreatic cancer patients had no significant influence on the overall pattern of weight loss."

Limited Success

The most important limitation of this study was its short duration. Three month's benefit is important, especially in an aggressive cancer like pancreatic. However, this brief reprieve should not give false hope.  There is some reason to suspect that had the study continued, progressive weight loss would likely have resumed. Why did researchers expect fish oil to help? Mainly because pancreatic cancer produces an inflammatory state in the body. This can be measured by a blood test called C-reactive protein. Typically, as the cancer progresses so does the C-reactive protein level. After one month on fish oil the C-reactive protein levels of test patients decreased by about one-third. This fits, because fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory effect. However, after three months of treatment the C-reactive protein levels had risen back to their high baseline levels. Therefore, we should not be surprised if weight loss resumed after four or five months. The fish-oil treatment appeared to slow weight loss, however, we do not know from this study if it also affected the cancer. Unfortunately, no imaging studies were done to see if tumor volume decreased. I know of only one other study that used fish oil to treat cancer in humans, and it measured tumor growth rather than weight loss. Among 12 patients with advanced breast cancer, tumor progression continued in 11. Only one showed a partial response to the fish oil. Animal studies using fish oil are encouraging. One study showed reduced cachexia in mice with cancer. Other studies showed fish oil decreased the subject's tendency to break down fat and increased the ability to preserve muscle mass. This month's clinical study builds on an increasing number of animal studies that find various foods and natural products valuable in cancer treatment. These include: soy protein, melatonin, vegetable mixes, modified citrus pectin, curcumin, Co-Q10, cow's milk whey and shark liver oil.

Having said this I want to make one thing crystal clear: Self-treatment for cancer makes no sense. People with cancer should work with an oncologist, or a physician specializing in cancer treatment. While many, probably most, oncologists remain wary of "alternative medicine," a substantial number are recognizing that something important is brewing in the nutrition/cancer literature.  I know several oncologists who are talking to nutritionists about how to help patients.  My sense is that oncologists are among the most caring and open-minded physicians. So if a patient chooses to add natural therapies to cancer treatments, my advice is to ask both the oncologist and alternative advisors to discuss with each other how best to contribute to patient care. NSN

Richard N. Podell, M.D., is clinical professor of family medicine at the
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., and
director of the Podell Center for Medical Treatment, Prevention and Natural
Healing in New Providence, N.J.
REFERENCES
1. Tisdale, M. J Nat Cancer Inst, 89: 1763-73, Dec. 3, 1997.
2. Chlebowski, R.T., Heber, D., et al. Cancer Res, 44: 857-61, 1984.
3. Wigmore, S.J., Falconer, J.S., et al. Br J Cancer, 72: 185-88, 1995.
4. Wigmore, S., Ross, J., et al. Nutrition (Suppl.), 12(1): S27-S30, 1996.
5. Beck, S.A., Smith, K.L., et al. Cancer Res, 51: 6089-93, 1991.
6. Tinsdale, M.J. & Beck, S.A. Biochem Pharmacol, 41: 103-7, 1991.
7. Smith, K.L. & Tisdale, M.J. Br J Cancer, 68: 314-18, 1993.
8. Yan, L., Yee, J., et al. Cancer and Nutrition, 29: 1-6, 1997.
9. Lissoni, P. European Urology, 31: 178-81, 1997.
10. Rijnkels, J., et al. Nutrition and Cancer 29: 90-95, 1997.
11. Plenta, K.J. J Nat Cancer Inst, 87: 348-53, 1997.
12. Nagabthushan, M. J Am Col Nut, 11(2): 192-98, 1992.
13. Lockwood, K., et al. Molecular Aspects of Medicine, 15: s231-40, 1994.
14. Kennedy, R., et al. Anticancer Research, 15: 2643-50, 1995.
15. Storm, H., et al. Lipids, 28: 555-59, 1993.

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