Fatty acids fight cancer spread, Australian study finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 11th April 2012

Tiny agents found in Omega-3 could potentially be used to block the path of primary cancer tumours according to pharmacy researchers at the University of Sydney.

The researchers behind the study believe these agents, called epoxides, could be used to prevent the advance to secondary stage cancers. Epoxides are produced within the human body from Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

In their study, Dr Michael Murray, Professor of Pharmogenetics at the University, and his team used breast cancer tissue cells to gauge the blocking capacity of epoxides on cancer cell movement. They discovered that epoxides have anti-metastatic actions.

A major life-threatening consequence of malignant breast tumours is metastasis where the disease has spread to distant sites (or tissues) and at present there are no treatments.

Dr Murray said, “We know that epidemiological studies have reported that dietary intake of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, decrease the risk of certain cancers. And many of us are including sources of Omega-3 such as tuna and salmon in our diet as a precaution.

“The major objective of our new project is to speed the development of anti-metastatic agents based on Omega-3 epoxides and trial their effectiveness on breast cancer tissue. Longer term we are aiming to develop a completely new class of anti-metastatic drugs designed to inhibit the spread of primary cancers,” Dr Murray added.

Dr Murray said that although not all experts agree, women who eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids over many years may be less likely to develop breast cancer.

Previous research has also shown that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis.