Why You Need Fish Oil To Treat & Prevent Cancer

There is an increasing amount of scientific research supporting the use of fish oils to treat and prevent cancer. Researchers have identified a number of ways in which fish oil might work.

Suppression of arachidonic acid derived prostaglandins
One of the more important functions of omega-3 fats is related to their enzymatic conversion into eicosanoids, which are short-lived, hormone-like fats with chain lengths of 20 carbon atoms (eicosa = 20). Eicosanoids are biologically potent and have a wide array of activities: they modulate inflammatory and immune responses and play a critical role in platelet aggregation, cellular growth, and cell differentiation.

Arachadonic acid is another fat that produces prostaglandins, but mostly bad ones that cause inflammation and cancer cell proliferation. One of the primary ways that fish oil works is by inhibiting the formation of prostaglandins from arachadonic acid.

Decreased estrogen Levels
It is well known that estrogen increases cancer risk in estrogen-sensitive tissues and that high estrogen concentrations increases the risk of breast cancer and of some other hormone-dependent cancers. It turns out that fish oil actually decreases the production of estrogen

Increased or decreased production of free radicals
Generally fatty acids with many double bonds, like fish oil, break down when exposed to the air. The long-chain, highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are therefore believed to promote fat oxidation and thus cancer. These assumptions are based on the results of investigations in the lab. However, there is recent evidence that, compared with the intake of omega-6 fats, the intake of omega-3 fats, like fish oil, suppresses so-called free radical diseases, such as cancer, ageing, and heart disease, which suggests that fat oxidation in the lab may not correspond with that in real life. Several studies found that increasing the dietary intakes of EPA and DHA does not increase the oxidative susceptibility of fats. Additionally, some researchers found that genes coding for some antioxidant enzymes (eg, glutathione transferases and manganese-superoxide dismutase) were up-regulated in mice fed a fish-oil diet, which suggests a protective effect against the production of reactive oxygen species and thus against cancer development.

Another important consideration is the intake of regular polyunsaturated fats. Although these are classified as "essential" the sad reality is that for nearly every American the intake of omega-6 fats is far too high. Around 1900 we were only consuming less than one pound of vegetable oil per year. A century later that is up to 75 pounds per person per year. Vegetable oil is mostly omega-6 fats. This total distortion of the critical omega 6:3 ratio is one of the major influences on cancer. So, it is not merely as simple as increasing omega-3 fats, one must also radically decrease omega-6 vegetable oil fat.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 2004 79(6);935-945

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