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June 9, 2005

Fish oil hope for breast cancer

Topics: Medicine

Researchers are reporting that two omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)found in fish, and a commonly used anaesthetic, Propofol, may form the basis of effective new drugs to treat breast cancer.

The combination appeared to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells, their ability to spread around the body and to form secondary tumours.

The Indiana team studied the effect of two omega-3 fatty acids - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Both have a minimal effect on cancer cells when applied alone.

But the researchers combined them with propofol, which was already known to inhibit cancer cell migration in a limited way.

They found that both the propofol-DHA and propofol-EPA combinations had a much more pronounced effect.

Not only did they block cell migration and the ability to adhere to potential new tumour sites, they also triggered some cells to commit suicide.

It is thought the fatty acids help to increase the absorption of propofol by the cancer cells.

Lead researcher Professor Rafat Siddiqui said it might eventually be possible to develop a patch or ointment containing the combination drug.

He told the BBC News website: "We would like to synthesize these compounds in larger quantities to use on animals in future studies so that we can test their effectiveness as a potential anti-cancer drug.

Many benefits

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon(Hyscience recommends canned or wild salmon only - never farm salmon), herring, sardines and mackerel, are already known to have many positive health benefits.

They are commonly recommended for maintaining a healthy heart, as they are known to reduce cholesterol levels.

Research suggests they may also protect against arthritis, lupus, and asthma and help people with bipolar disorder.

Dr Sarah Rawlings, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "The potential of mixing these two compounds to enhance their anti-cancer properties is interesting.

"However, this research was carried out in cells and we don't yet know what the effect will be in women with breast cancer."

The research is published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Suggested readings:
Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and ionizing irradiation on human breast cancer xenograft growth and angiogenesis.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids attenuate breast cancer growth through activation of a neutral sphingomyelinase-mediated pathway.

Omega-3 fatty acids improve liver and pancreas function in postoperative cancer patients.

Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the progression of metastases after the surgical excision of human breast cancer cell solid tumors growing in nude mice.

Cross posted at NewHopeBlog

Posted by Hyscience at June 9, 2005 4:38 PM

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