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Fish oil may help fight breast cancer


As a preventative against breast cancer, Tamoxifen interferes with the activity of estrogen, which would otherwise boost breast cancer risk when women are exposed to the hormone for a long period.

Now a new study suggests that taking omega-3-fatty acids which are high in fatty fish may enhance the preventative effect of tamoxifen.

The study, which was presented the study at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 on Wednesday April 6, showed fish oil used along with tamoxifen helped prevent breast cancer.
For the study, Jose Russo, MD, of the Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at Fox Chase and colleagues fed four groups of rats with chemical-induced mammary tumors either a 17 percent fish oil added diet with or without tamoxifen or a 20 percent corn oil diet with or without tamoxifen.

Previous studies have already shown omega-3 fatty acids protect against a number of malignant tumors while corn oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids and believed to promote cancer growth.

After the dietary regimen, the researchers tested expressions of genes in tumors. They found fish oil boosted expression of genes which are associated with differentiation, which means fish oil may reduce the severity of the disease.  

Fish oil along with tamoxifen reduced expression of genes that are known to promote tumor growth and spreading, compared with the corn oil diet.

Fish oil alone also boosted expression of genes that are related with immune defenses against tumors, compared with the corn oil diet.

However, the researchers found fish oil also boosted expression of immunity genes that are known to impose an adverse effect such as inflammation which among other things may disable the cells to fight cancer or even help spread the tumors.

A 75-year gentleman reportedly enlisted nutrients mainly omega-3 fatty acids in a dose of up to 15 grams of docosahexaenoic acid or DHA per day, to have successfully defeated his rare lung cancer, according to a case study reported earlier.

Fatty fish include salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in nuts and other plant foods, but they are different from the omega-3 fatty acids in fish.

An estimated 175,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The disease and its complications kill about 50,000 each year in the country, according to cancer.gov.

David Liu

Photo credit: Fawcett5 via wikipedia.org