Omega-3-rich diet may stop Breast Cancer from spreading


New research shows further evidence that a diet rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids slows the growth and spread of breast cancer cells and may also improve survival.

A vast body of research hails the benefits of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthful fats are found in fish, seafood, nuts, and seeds, as well as in fish oil, plant oils, and some fortified foods. A recent study of more than 85,000 people which lasted around 16 years, found that eating more fish and long-chain omega-3s reduces the risk of mortality and may prolong life.

Omega-3s appear to improve cardiovascular and cognitive function, potentially fend off depression, and have a positive impact on a person's mental health, some studies maintain. Emerging research is exploring the link between omega-3s and cancer. Observational studies have linked diets rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids with a lower risk of breast cancer. Some molecular studies have suggested that omega-3s may stop cancer by activating the body's natural pain-killers.

Now, experiments in mice add to the mounting evidence that dietary omega-3s may have cancer-fighting properties.

Fatty acids, such as the ones found in fish oil, could prevent breast cancer cells from growing and spreading, suggests research recently published in the Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia.

Fish oil may reduce tumors, block metastasis

The team responsible for this research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha fed two groups of adult female rodents nearly identical diets. However, the main difference was that one group ate a diet rich in olive oil-derived omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, whereas the other group received food containing omega-3-rich fish oil. Then, the researchers injected the mice with 4T1 breast cancer cells, which cause tumors to spread quickly to the breast glands. Furthermore, 4T1 cells can spontaneously migrate to other sites, such as bones, the lungs, and the liver.

After 35 days, the researched evaluated the effects of the two diets on the mice.

In the rodents that received fish oil, the breast cancer cells were "significantly" less likely to have spread to the breast glands. The tumors that did develop in the breast glands also grew much more slowly, which affected their size. Specifically, breast gland tumors in the omega-3 group were 50 percent smaller than those in the omega-6 group. Cancer cells had less spread to other parts of the body in the omega-3 group, and these rodents also had better overall survival rates.

Omega-3s may strengthen immune system

Interestingly, the tissues of the omega-3 mice revealed more T cells than those of their omega-6 counterparts. T cells are anti-inflammatory white blood cells that play a crucial role in keeping the immune system strong and healthy.

This led to the researchers hypothesizing that a diet rich in fish oil may prevent the spread of tumors by curbing the inflammation that underlies metastasis.

This research supports what we have learned from many other studies regarding the healthful effects of Omega-3s and an anti-inflammatory diet. We do have to keep in mind that this study was in mice, so we do not yet know for sure if the research translates to people.

Fabio AlmeidaeZine32