Omega-3s From Fish Outperform Those From Flax for Cancer Protection
Not all sources of omega-3 fatty acids are equally beneficial for cancer prevention. The nutrients from fish are eight times more effective at suppressing tumor growth than those from flax, according to a new study at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada.
“This study is the first to compare the cancer-fighting potency of plant- versus marine-derived omega-3s on breast tumour development,” said Professor David Ma from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences. “There is evidence that both omega-3s from plants and marine sources are protective against cancer, and we wanted to determine which form is more effective.”
Omega-3 fatty acids come in three varieties: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found in fish, while ALA is found in plant foods such as flaxseeds and soy.
Omega-3s from Fish Shrank Tumors 60 to 70 Percent
In the study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, mice bred to develop a highly aggressive form of breast cancer were fed the three types of omega-3s. The form of malignancy, called HER-2, affects 25 percent of breast cancer patients and has a poor prognosis. Exposure of the mice to the omega-3s started before birth.
“The mice were exposed to the different omega-3s even before tumours developed, which allowed us to compare how effective the fatty acids are at prevention,” said Ma. “It’s known that EPA and DHA can inhibit breast tumour growth, but no one has looked directly at how effective these omega-3s are compared to ALA.”
Ma discovered the omega-3s from fish decreased the size of tumors by 60 to 70 percent, as well as reduced the number of tumors by 30 percent. Much higher doses of the plant-based omega-3s were required to produce the same benefits. The omega-3s from fish worked eight times better than omega-3s from plants.
Omega-3s help cut cancer risk by activating genes that boost immune function, an effect that blocks pathways involved in tumor growth, explained Ma. Eating two to three servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, trout and tuna, per week would provide the doses used in the study, he adds.
“It seems EPA and DHA are more effective at this. In North America, we don’t get enough omega-3s from seafood, so there lies an opportunity to improve our diet and help prevent the risk of breast cancer.”
In the future, the team would like to test the effects of omega-3s on other forms of breast cancer.
“Seeing the significant benefits omega-3s can have in combatting a highly aggressive form of breast cancer means omega-3s will likely be beneficial for other types of cancer.”
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Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.