Omega-3 could improve oral mucositis


Oral mucositis, probably the most common complication of cancer treatments, particularly chemotherapy and radiotherapy, usually manifests as redness, inflammation, or even ulcers (in 40% to 80% of cases). Oral mucositis has a great impact on quality of life and daily routines, because it can disturb oral functions such as swallowing, eating, drinking, and talking, due to pain, infections (due to open sores in the mucosa), and bleeding. It is therefore important to treat mucositis as soon as possible once diagnosed. It generally begins 5-10 days following the initiation of chemotherapy and lasts from one week to six weeks or more.

At present, there are no specific medications to treat or prevent mucositis. Treatment aims to reduce its severity and duration, to prevent infection and to control pain. Besides, these persons cannot take drugs with potential adverse side effects because of their special situation (their illness and medications).

For these reasons research is being done to find how to reduce mucositis with minimal side effects. Various studies have reported the wound-healing effect of omega-3 fatty acids. On this basis, Iranian researchers have conducted a study to assess the efficacy and method of omega-3 fatty acids administration to treat and prevent mucositis in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The results of this study have shown that patients receiving omega-3 fatty acids in oral form (topically) experience less pain and irritation of the oral cavity and throat, and, consequently, also experience an improvement in their quality of life (in things as eating, sleeping, and swallowing liquids).

Although it is necessary to be cautious, these results show that omega-3 fatty acids in topic oral form may have a beneficial effect on oral mucositis resulting from cancer treatment with chemotherapy.


Hashemipour MA, Barzegari S, Kakoie S, et al. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Against Chemotherapy-induced Mucositis: A Double-blind Randomized Clinical Trial. Wounds. 2017;29(12):360-6.

Mucositis [Internet]. Newport Beach Ca: The Oral Cancer Foundation 

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