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Higher marine omega-3 fatty acid intake linked with lower breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women

Higher marine omega-3 fatty acid intake linked with lower breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women

Tuesday, July 2, 2013. The results of a meta-analysis published on July 27, 2013 in the British Medical Journal add evidence to a protective effect for marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids against the risk of breast cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids, which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) found in marine oils, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which occurs in plants, are polyunsaturated fats that have been associated with a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular events, however, their presence is often less than optimal in the standard Western diet.

For their analysis, researchers from Hangzhou, China selected 26 articles that included a total of 883,585 women from the U.S., Europe and Asia, among whom there were 20,905 cases of breast cancer. Eleven studies examined the association between fish intake and breast cancer risk, 17 examined the association between marine omega-3 fatty acids and risk, 12 evaluated ALA's association, and 10 analyzed the association between total omega-3 fatty acid intake and risk of the disease. For women whose intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids was among the highest there was a 14% reduction in the risk of breast cancer in comparison with those whose intake was lowest. The risk was similar for marine omega-3 fatty acids measured as dietary intake and for tissue biomarkers. The researchers determined that for each 100 milligram increase of marine omega-3 fatty acid intake, the risk of breast cancer was lowered by 5%. No significant associations were found for fish or ALA.

Further analysis of the data indicated that the protective effect was significant for postmenopausal, but not premenopausal women, which could mean that long term exposure is necessary to derive a benefit. Possible anticancer mechanisms for marine omega-3 fatty acids include regulation of factors involved in the signal transduction of cell growth, or involvement in programmed cell death. There is also evidence that the fatty acids could reduce the production of estrogen, which stimulates the growth of estrogen receptor-positive malignancies.

"Our present study provides solid and robust evidence that marine omega-3 PUFA are inversely associated with risk of breast cancer," Duo Li and colleagues conclude. "The protective effect of fish or individual n-3 PUFA warrants further investigation of prospective studies."

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Vitamin E may help prevent cancer in men and women with genetic disorder

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The September 15, 2012 issue of Clinical Cancer Research published an article that describes research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic which suggests a protective effect for vitamin E in individuals with Cowden syndrome, a genetic disorder that increases the risk of developing cancer. Patients with the syndrome have a 35 percent lifetime risk of developing epithelial thyroid cancer, and women have an 85 percent risk of breast cancer.

Mutations in succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) genes (involved in energy production) that can occur in Cowden syndrome patients may be behind the increased cancer risk. Ying Ni and Charis Eng, MD PhD evaluated lipid peroxidation in human cells carrying the mutation and found an increase in reactive oxygen species, which results in higher levels of peroxidation. This increase rendered the cells resistant to apoptosis (programmed cell death), which is one of the ways that the body eliminates cancer cells.

When the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E was administered to the cells, oxidative damage was prevented and the cells were no longer resistant to apoptosis. "These findings support the notion that vitamin E may be useful as an anticancer therapeutic adjunct or preventive agent, especially for Cowden syndrome patients harboring SDH mutations, and its protective properties should be further explored," stated Dr Eng, who is the Director of the Genomic Medicine Institute and Director of its Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute.

Drs Ni and Eng hypothesize that alpha-tocopherol's lipid solubility may be the reason for its ability to protect cells from lipid peroxidation in this study. "Our study supports the notion that alpha-tocopherol may be useful as a therapeutic adjunct or preventative agent, especially for individuals with germline SDHx variants/mutations," the authors conclude.

Life Extension Magazine® July 2013 Issue Now Online!

Life Extension Magazine July, 2013 

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