Fatty fish consumption associated with reduced kidney cancer risk
A report published in the September 20, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that women who ate more fatty fish had a lower risk of the common form of kidney cancer known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Renal cell carcinoma affects the functional tissue of the kidney, and comprises over 80 percent of kidney cancers. Previous studies that looked at total fish consumption, but not fatty fish consumption, had failed to find a significant association with a reduced risk of major cancers or renal cell carcinoma.
Alicja Wolk, DMSc, of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and colleagues utilized data from 61,433 women participating in the Swedish Mammography Cohort who had no history of a cancer diagnosis upon enrollment. Food questionnaires administered between 1987 and 1990, and again in 1997 were analyzed for fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel), lean fish, and seafood intake.
Over an average 15.3 years of follow-up, 150 cases of renal cell carcinoma were diagnosed. While no association was found between renal cell carcinoma risk and lean fish or seafood consumption, women who initially reported eating fatty fish at least once per week had a 44 percent lower risk of the disease than those who ate no fatty fish. When the 36,664 women who completed the second questionnaire were examined, consistent consumption of fish, defined as at least one to three times per month, was associated with a 74 percent lower risk of renal cell carcinoma compared to those who consistently did not eat fatty fish.
"Our results support the hypothesis that frequent consumption of fatty fish may lower the risk of RCC possibly due to increased intake of fish oil rich in eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaneoic acid as well as vitamin D," the authors write. "Our results, however, require confirmation because this is the first epidemiological study addressing this issue," they conclude.
And in another study, published online on September 15, 2006 in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego demonstrated an association between latitudes with reduced sunlight exposure and an increased risk of kidney cancer. Because ultraviolet B radiation triggers the synthesis of vitamin D3 in the body, a deficiency of the vitamin could be a culprit in increased kidney cancer risk.
"Kidney cancer is a mysterious cancer for which no widely accepted cause or means of prevention exists, so we wanted to build on research by one of the co-authors, William Grant, and see if it might be related to deficiency of vitamin D," stated professor of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine and coauthor Cedric Garland, Dr PH.
In addition to reduced sunlight, greater intake of calories from animal sources was also found to be independently associated with increased kidney cancer risk in this study.
Cancer immunotherapies, including cancer vaccines, are novel investigational cancer therapies. In contrast to chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens that are often associated with severe side effects, cancer immunotherapy stimulates the body’s immune system and natural resistance to cancer, thus offering a gentler means of cancer treatment that is less damaging to the rest of the body. Surgery is generally (but not always) performed, prior to immunotherapy, to remove most of the tumor (Hanna MG, Jr. et al 2001; Jocham D et al 2004). Vaccination or immunotherapy prompts the immune system to kill residual cancer cells that persist after surgery and could result in the cancer recurring.
A cancer vaccine for renal cell carcinoma has recently been tested in a phase III setting using autologous (self-donated) cancer cells and lysates (prepared by breaking down cancer cells) (Doehn C et al 2003; Jocham D et al 2004). This study involved 558 renal cell carcinoma patients who were vaccinated (six injections in the skin once a month) with the autologous tumor cell vaccine after surgery (Jocham D et al 2004). After 70 months of follow-up, the progression-free survival of vaccinated patients was 67.8 percent compared to 59.3 percent in non-vaccinated patients (Jocham D et al 2004). These results support the use of this renal cell carcinoma vaccine following surgery (removal of a kidney) in renal cell carcinoma cases not larger than 2.5 cm (Jocham D et al 2004).
Although the direct effect of nutritional supplements on the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy has yet to be clinically evaluated, the impact of nutrition, particularly micronutrients, on immune cell function (that is, immunonutrition) is central to the success of any cancer treatment (Calder PC et al 2002b; Chandra RK 1999). Several nutrients are able to modulate immune response and counteract inflammatory processes. Zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and glutamine all act differently to modulate immune response, but all appear to have the potential to protect against cancer progression (Grimble RF 2001).
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