A diet rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the spread of breast cancer, new research shows. According to Medical News Today, a new study involving female mice has shown that omega-3 fatty acids have improved the rodents’ survival and slowed the spread of breast cancer.
Many studies in the past have praised the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats found in fish, seafood, nuts, and seeds). Recent studies have explored how omega-3s impact cancer including a recent study published in the Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia.
Saraswoti Khadge, a doctoral researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at Omaha, and her team fed two groups of female mice nearly identical diets. One group of mice ate a diet rich in omega-3 fish oil and the other group ate a diet rich in olive oil-derived omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
Researchers then injected the mice with 4T1 breast cancer cells. After 35 days, Khadge and her team autopsied the mice.
Compared to the group of mice who were fed an omega-6 diet, the mice who were fed an omega-3 diet had tumors that were 50% smaller. Cancer cells were also less likely to spread in the omega-3 group compared to the omega-6, giving them a greater survival rate.
“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 James Talmadge, a professor of pathology and microbiology at UNO who was involved in the study.
“Thus, not only were common metastasis sites reduced but also secondary tumor growth in the ovaries, kidneys, and contralateral breasts,” said Talmadge.
The results of the study could help in the field of drug discovery, a multi-billion dollar industry, and in the development of future treatments for breast cancer.
Researchers also found that the tissues in the omega-3 mice had more T cells, a subtype of white blood cells, than the omega-6 mice. Because of this, Khadge hypothesizes that a diet rich in fish oil could not only prevent the spread of tumors but also improve the immune system.
Still, Khadge says that while a diet rich in fish oil could help to prevent the spread of tumors, it may not keep them from developing. Cancer can’t be prevented, but your risk can be reduced.
Two of the most common ways you can reduce your risk of developing cancer is by keeping active and taking cancer exams.
Less than one-third of children today are active to a healthy level, but physical activity can help reduce the risk of cancer by reducing the amount of blood estrogen and insulin in your body, which have been known to take part in developing cancer.
Breast self-exams and prostate-specific antigen tests (a simple blood test that measures the amount of PSA in the blood) can also help to reduce your risk of dying from cancer.
Based on Khadge’s study, a diet high in omega-3s may help to reduce your risk of cancer or help slow it down. But some fish and shellfish in the U.S. may contain chemicals that can pose health risks.
Because of this, all 50 states have consumption advisories that are designed to protect Americans from potential health risks related to contaminated fish. The Environmental Protection Agency also encourages that states issue safe eating guidelines so residents know what they can safely eat.
Some fish can be transported live in oxygenated plastic bags whereas others may be frozen and transported in one of the 500,000 reefer trailers currently in operation in the United States.
These types of fish may have federal, state, or territorial advisories. However, advisories about fish from certain bodies of water may address specific fish species and chemical contaminants.
To obtain the benefits of omega-3s from fish oil, it’s recommended to consume fish that are either raw (such as sushi) or have been baked. The benefits of omega-3s don’t apply to fried fish.