Fatty acid composition of plasma lipids in patients with pancreatic, lung and oesophageal cancer in comparison with healthy subjects

S.D. Zuijdgeest-van Leeuwen*, M.S. van der Heijden, T. Rietveld, J.W.O. van den Berg, H.W. Tilanus, J.A. Burgers, J.H.P. Wilson, P.C. Dagnelie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Institute of Internal Medicine II, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Despite the general notion of impaired nutritional status in cancer patients, studies on fatty acid status in cancer patients are limited. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether plasma n-3 fatty acids concentrations are reduced in patients with different tumour types. METHODS: We measured fatty acid composition in plasma phospholipids (PLs) and cholesteryl esters (CEs) in 71 newly diagnosed, untreated cancer patients of three tumour types: oesophageal or cardia cancer (n = 35), non-small cell lung cancer (n = 22) and pancreatic cancer (n = 15) and in 45 healthy subjects. RESULTS: In pancreatic cancer, plasma n-3 fatty acids showed a substantial reduction in both plasma PLs and CES. Although n-3 fatty acids in lung cancer also tended to be reduced, this difference failed to reach statistical significance. n-3 Fatty acid levels were especially reduced in pancreatic cancer patients without diabetes mellitus, and in lung cancer patients with weight loss. In oesophageal cancer, n-3 fatty acid concentrations were comparable to those in healthy subjects. CONCLUSION: We conclude that plasma n-3 fatty acid levels were reduced in pancreatic cancer, tended to be reduced in lung cancer, but were not altered in oesophageal cancer. Further studies are needed to assess the mechanisms underlying the observed changes in n-3 fatty acid concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-230
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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