Omega-3s Aid in Cancer Battle

Previously, a number of studies suggest that long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), inhibit cancer formation in vivo but their mechanism of action is unclear.  Zacharoula Nikolakopoulou, from the University of London (United Kingdom), and colleagues studied squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC), one of the major forms of skin cancer. In that squamous cells also occur in the lining of the digestive tract, lungs, and other areas of the body, oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are the sixth most common cancer worldwide.  In their experiments, the researchers grew cell cultures in the lab from several different cells lines to which they added fatty acids. The cell lines included both malignant oral and skin SCCs, along with pre-malignant cells and normal skin and oral cells. The team observed that omega-3 fatty acids induced cell death in malignant and pre-malignant cells at doses which did not affect normal cells, with the researchers positing the effect as partly due to an over-stimulation of epidermal growth factor, which triggered cell death.  The study authors submit that: “Our results show that, in part, [eicosapentaenoic acid] specifically inhibits [squamous-cell carcinoma] growth and development by … supporting the chemopreventative potential of [eicosapentaenoic acid].”