Numerous articles have highlighted the health benefits of diets based on fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, as well as those using supplements of fish oil or plant oils. What do they have in common? They are all full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, known to improve a number of conditions, including lowering cardiovascular disease, and even respiratory and liver problems.
Now, one University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher is exploring the effects long-chain Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can have on breast cancer. The theory so far is that body’s immune and anti-inflammatory system are somehow spurred to fight the disease by the influx of these “tail” molecules.
Saraswoti Khadge, a Ph.D. student, has been conducting trials on mice. She started with two groups, one fed a diet abundant in ω−3 fish oil, the other containing olive oil rich omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Both groups had the same amount of calories and were exposed to the same compound, 4T1.
“The studies by Khadge provided insight not only on the impact of dietary omega-3 fatty acids on tumor growth and metastasis but also on the sites of metastasis.” said Dr. James Talmadge, Ph. D, supervising professor and director of the UNMC Laboratory of Transplantation Immunology. “Thus, not only were common metastasis sites reduced but also secondary tumor growth in the ovaries, kidneys and contralateral breasts“.
Results of the trials pointed towards a reduced chance of cancer growth and subsequent spread to other organs by almost 50%, compared to the omega 6 group.
“Our study emphasizes the potential therapeutic role of dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in the control of tumor growth and metastasis” said Khadge.
Even though these findings appear to be very significant, she went on to add that “this does not mean that an omega-3 diet could summarily prevent breast cancer tumors from forming altogether”.