Over the past 10-15 years there have been several suggestive reports that consumption of a diet enriched in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), specifically from marine sources such as Krill and cold water fishes, may be a significant contributor to cancer prevention. However, there is currently a lack of direct evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies to substantiate such claims. This is due to the fact that in human studies there are so many variable factors at play, making conclusions correlative at best.
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A recent study, led by Dr. David Ma and published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (http://www.jnutbio.com/article/S0955-2863(12)00209-4/abstract), demonstrates for the first time, in experimental animals, that life-long omega-3 PUFA production significantly reduces the development of mammary tumors. These experiments involved transgenic mice designed to be capable of endogenous omega-3 PUFA. These mice, called the fat-1 transgenic mice, were created to express the fat-1 transgene, which encodes an n-3 desaturase gene derived from the roundworm C. elegans. This allows these mice to endogenously produce n-3 PUFA from n-6 PUFA obtained in the diet. The fat-1 mice were crossed with a mouse model of aggressive breast cancer. The resultant mice displayed significant reductions in mammary tumor volume and also they had reduced n-6 PUFA and enriched n-3 PUFA in tumor phospholipids relative to the mammary tumor control mice. This observed effect was similar to that observed in mice that were fed a diet high in omega-3 PUFA. Although this study demonstrated that omega-3 PUFA can reduce tumor
outcomes, the mechanism(s) of action remains to be determined. Nonetheless, it is a very promising result indicating that diets enriched in omega-3 PUFA should be encouraged as a means to life-long health.