Reseachers at China's Shandong University conducted a review to determine the effects of parenteral nutrition with omega-3 supplementation on immune function and clinical outcomes in post-operative gastrointestinal cancer patients.
They assessed seven RCTs involving a total of 457 participants. Of the seven trials, five (involving 373 participants) "indicated that the incidence of infectious complications was significantly different between the (omega-3) intervention and control groups".
In addition, five trials involving 385 participants showed that parenteral omega-3 fatty acid supplementation significantly reduced the duration of hospitalisation for post-operative gastrointestinal cancer patients.
The researchers also said omega-3 might be able to affect inflammatory response outcome — possibly through "leukocyte–endothelial interactions by oxidised omega-3 fatty acids" — and the production of inflammatory mediators.
Critical illness limitations
However, they stated there was insufficient evidence that parenteral nutrition with omega-3 supplementation had any significant impact on mortality, infectious complications, and duration of ICU stay for critically ill patients.
They said the review had found parenteral omega-3 supplementation beneficial to post-operative gastrointestinal cancer patients in terms of immune function and clinical outcomes, adding that these findings may be able to support the clinical application of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.
They concluded: "However, these partial results should be treated with caution because of the limitations of and potential risk of bias in the included studies.
"Large-scale, randomised, prospective trials are warranted to assess the effect of parenteral omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in postoperative gastrointestinal cancer patients."
Source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
"Effects of parenteral ω-3 fatty acid supplementation in postoperative gastrointestinal cancer on immune function and length of hospital stay: a systematic review and meta-analysis"
Authors: Hao Bai, et al.