Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are more commonly used to treat high cholesterol, or triglycerides. However, several recent studies have shown that fish oil supplements may also be helpful in the treatment of certain cancers.
I’ve reviewed the most compelling findings from cancer treatment and prevention studies for you below.
Breast Cancer. Women who regularly consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids over many years may be less likely to develop breast cancer. In addition, the risk of dying from breast cancer may be significantly less for those who eat large quantities of omega-3 from fish and brown kelp seaweed (common in Japan).
According to researchers, the balance between omega-3 and omega-6s appears to play an important role in the development and growth of breast cancer. One study found omega-3 supplementation to possibly impair angiogenesis, a prerequisite for tumor growth and metastasis.
Further research is still needed to understand the effect that omega-3s may have on breast cancer prevention and treatment. Researchers do speculate that omega-3s, in combination with other nutrients (namely, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, and coenzyme Q10) may prove to be of particular value for preventing and treating breast cancer.
Cervical Cancer. Women with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) may be able to reduce or even prevent infection by supplementing with omega-3.
A study that tested omega-3 fish oil (DHA specifically) on cervical HPV-induced pre-cancerous cells found that the fish oil inhibited the growth of these cells.
Colon Cancer. Omega-3s may play an important role in colorectal cancer prevention.
Experimental data have shown benefits of omega-3s in reducing tumor growth and inhibition of metastasis (the spread of tumors to other parts of the body).
Prostate Cancer. omega-3s may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.
According to recent studies, a low-fat diet with the addition of omega-3s from fish or fish oil help prevent the development of prostate cancer. More research in this area is needed, but a more recent study concludes that omega-3s may enhance the response of prostate cancer to ablation therapy and slow tumor progression.
Skin Cancer. After looking at How Taking Fish Oil Can Improve Your Skin, some researchers believe that protection against harmful UV rays (the major cause of skin disorders such as sunburn, “photo-damage”, and non-melanoma skin cancer) can be obtained from dietary means, in addition of course to sunscreen.
Two interesting studies concluded that omega-3s provide dietary protection by reducing sensitivity to UV rays and contributing to maintenance resistance as part of lifelong protection.