Title

(n-3) Fatty Acids and Cancer Therapy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2004

Abstract

Supplementing the diet of tumor-bearing mice or rats with oils containing (n-3) (omega-3) or with purified (n-3) fatty acids has slowed the growth of various types of cancers, including lung, colon, mammary, and prostate. The efficacy of cancer chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin, epirubicin, CPT-11, 5-fluorouracil, and tamoxifen, and of radiation therapy has been improved when the diet included (n-3) fatty acids. Some potential mechanisms for the activity of (n-3) fatty acids against cancer include modulation of eicosanoid production and inflammation, angiogenesis, proliferation, susceptibility for apoptosis, and estrogen signaling. In humans, (n-3) fatty acids have also been used to suppress cancer-associated cachexia and to improve the quality of life. In one study, the response to chemotherapy therapy was better in breast cancer patients with higher levels of (n-3) fatty acids in adipose tissue [indicating past consumption of (n-3) fatty acids] than in patients with lower levels of (n-3) fatty acids. Thus, in combination with standard treatments, supplementing the diet with (n-3) fatty acids may be a nontoxic means to improve cancer treatment outcomes and may slow or prevent recurrence of cancer. Used alone, an (n-3) supplement may be a useful alternative therapy for patients who are not candidates for standard toxic cancer therapies.

Comments

This article first appeared in the December 1, 2004 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, the member magazine of The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, and is reprinted with permission.

© 2004 The American Society for Nutritional Sciences