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Effects of omega-3 supplementation on lean body mass in cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis



Omega-3 fatty acids are bioactive nutrients with the potential to preserve lean body mass in individuals with cancer. This study aimed to review the literature on randomized clinical trials that evaluated the effects of omega-3 supplementation on lean body mass in cancer patients. As secondary objectives, we evaluated the effects of omega-3 supplementation on body mass index (BMI) and body weight. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis in the following databases: Pubmed, LILACS, Scielo, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane, and Embase. It included randomized clinical trials that investigated the effects of omega-3 supplementation on lean body mass in cancer patients. Observational studies, animal experiments, studies carried out with healthy humans, and non-randomized clinical trials were excluded. We utilized the Cochrane scale to assess the quality of the studies. A meta-analysis was carried out to evaluate the effect of omega-3 on lean body mass, BMI, and body weight. Fourteen studies were included, of which four showed significant results from omega-3 supplementation for lean body mass. In the meta-analysis, omega-3 fatty acids increased lean body mass by 0.17 kg compared to placebo, but without significant differences between the groups [SMD: 0.17; CI 95%: −0.01, 0.35; I2 = 41%]. For body weight, omega-3 showed a statistically significant effect [SMD: 0.26; CI 95%: 0.06, 0.45; I2 = 46%], whereas for BMI the results were not significant. This systematic review and meta-analysis showed no statistically significant effect from omega-3 on lean body mass and BMI. On the other hand, there was a statistical significance for body weight.

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Fig. 1: PRISMA flowchart.
Fig. 2: Forest plot for lean body mass.
Fig. 3: Forest plot for BMI.
Fig. 4: Forest plot for body weight.
Fig. 5: Forest plot by body composition measurement method.
Fig. 6: Cochrane risk of bias.
Fig. 7: Funnel plots for assessing the risk of publication bias for lean body mass.


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During the preparation of the manuscript, FMD received a doctoral grant from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

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All authors contributed to data interpretation and reviewed, edited, and approved the final manuscript. FMD conducted the writing, analysis, and critical review of the manuscript. LMF was the second reviewer and revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Felipe Mendes Delpino.

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Delpino, F.M., Figueiredo, L.M. Effects of omega-3 supplementation on lean body mass in cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr (2022).

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