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3 August 2006
Omega-3 Puts Brakes On Prostate Cancer
by George Atkinson

University of California researchers have found that a diet that includes more omega-3 fatty acids may reduce both prostate cancer tumor growth and PSA levels. Although the study only examined omega-3's effects in animals, the researchers believe the findings could lead to new treatment approaches for men suffering the disease.

The study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, looked into the dietary ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and their effect on prostate cancer growth. Omega-6 fatty acids are contained in corn, safflower oils and red meats, and are the predominant polyunsaturated fatty acids in the Western diet. The healthier omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. "Corn oil is the backbone of the American diet. We consume up to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids in our diet compared to omega-3 acids," said researcher Dr. William Aronson. "This study strongly suggests that eating a healthier ratio of these two types of fatty acids may make a difference in reducing prostate cancer growth."

The study found that tumor cell growth rates decreased by 22 percent and PSA levels decreased by 77 percent in animals receiving a healthier balance of fatty acids compared with the group that received predominantly omega-6 fatty acids. The researchers speculate that the effect is likely due to an increase of the prostate tumor omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and a lowering of the omega-6 acid known as arachidonic acid. These three fatty acids compete to be converted into prostaglandins, which can become either pro-inflammatory and increase tumor growth, or anti-inflammatory and reduce growth.

"This is one of the first studies showing changes in diet can impact the inflammatory response that may play a role in prostate cancer tumor growth," Aronson said. "We may be able to use EPA and DHA supplements while also reducing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet as a cancer prevention tool or possibly to reduce progression in men with prostate cancer." Aronson hopes that the positive findings from this study willy lead to larger clinical trials.

Based on material from the University of California - Los Angeles

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