Omega-3: A Potent Ally Against Cancer

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal cellular health, inflammation control, and overall longevity. Research indicates that daily supplementation with controlled doses offers even more benefits than consuming oily fish. Fish oil-derived omega-3s can help reduce the risk of cachexia and polyps, which are precursors to colorectal cancer.

Omega-3s from fish oil are eight times more potent than those from plant sources. A groundbreaking discovery by the University of Louvain reveals that the well-known omega-3 DHA, primarily found in fish, can cause 3D tumors to disintegrate within days. Tumor cells in acidosis, hungry for fatty acids, consume DHA but cannot store it properly, causing them to poison themselves and ultimately die.

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an essential omega-3 fatty acid vital for brain function, vision, and regulation of inflammation. In addition to these health benefits, DHA has been linked to a reduction in cancer incidence. A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Louvain has recently uncovered the biochemical mechanism that enables DHA and related fatty acids to slow tumor development. This significant breakthrough was published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism.

Through the support of various foundations and organizations, the researchers identified that acidotic tumor cells exhibit opposing responses depending on the fatty acid they absorb. They discovered that some fatty acids stimulated tumor cells, while others, like DHA, were toxic to them.

The 2016 discovery by Olivier Feron's University of Louvain team revealed that tumor cells in acidic environments replace glucose with lipids as an energy source for multiplication. In 2020, in collaboration with Cyril Corbet, Feron demonstrated that these cells are highly aggressive and can develop metastases. Yvan Larondelle, a professor at UCLouvain Faculty of Bioengineering, and his team, who work on developing improved dietary lipid sources, joined forces with Feron's team to evaluate tumor cell behavior in the presence of various fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids can also help minimize heart-related side effects from chemotherapy and radiation. As inflammation reducers, they may lower the risk of cancer recurrence by:

  • Reducing fatty deposits within arteries
  • Preventing heart disease
  • Managing depression
  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Inhibiting cancer development
  • Treating symptoms of lupus (an autoimmune disease)

Experts believe omega-3s may offer protection against cancer due to their inflammation-reducing properties. Sarah Rafat, RD, a senior dietitian at MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains that various cancers are linked to chronic inflammation, such as colorectal, liver, lung, and prostate cancers. Additionally, omega-3s appear to limit tumor cell growth and may even trigger cancer cell self-destruction.







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