Breast cancer tumor growth slowed by omega-3 consumption, study finds

Research from the University of Guelph boasts mega news regarding the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer tumor growth. According to the report, a lifelong omega-3 diet can slow mammary malignancy growth by as much as 30 percent.

Researchers employed a novel transgenic mouse that produced omega-3 fatty acids alongside developing aggressive mammary tumors. Such mice were then compared to genetically manipulated rodents set to only produce tumors; the omega mice were found to have developed only two-thirds as many tumors. The study is purportedly the first of its kind to establish unequivocal evidence that omega-3s can play a role in the reduction of cancer risk.

David Ma, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences and one of the study’s authors, said the results came at the tail end of much anxiety, but were welcome proofs to a long-held assumption.

“I was worried at the outset of the study that we would show no effect of omega-3’s on tumor development because the model we used develops cancer very aggressively,” Ma told PhysBizTech. “Thus, the aggressive nature of the cancer might overshadow any potential benefit of the omega-3’s.  Given that we are able to observe a benefit in this aggressive model, which reflects her-2 positive breast cancer in women, we have even greater confidence that the benefit is true.”

It is the hope of Ma and contributing colleagues that these findings will lend themselves as enforcers to proper dietary confines in women specifically, and prompt physicians to more eagerly promote omega-3 consumption.

“Physicians should recommend to patients that having omega-3’s as part of a balanced diet should be part of the family diet,” Ma said. “There are a number of recommendations from various health organizations and generally recommend having 2 servings of fish each week or approximately 0.5g of EPA/DHA per day from supplements for adults. For infants, breast milk or infant formula enriched in DHA is a great source of omega-3’s.   For children, functional foods such as omega-3 enriched eggs or milk are great for the picky eater in the family. I have also seen omega-3 enriched orange juice in some markets.”

Ma also cautioned that while physicians should encourage certain intakes for preventative purposes, they should also make sure patients are clear on the realities of the omega suggestion.

“While nutrition supports optimal health it should not be confused with the expectation that it will cure cancer,” he concluded. “Instead, proper nutrition will help us have healthier lives and also help mitigate the severity of disease should we succumb to something like cancer. Another important point is that omega-3’s are not a magic bullet that will cure all, but the study reinforces why it should be part of a nutritious and healthy diet.”

The study can be found in the most recent edition of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.