Marine fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, have been consistently shown to inhibit the proliferation of breast and prostate cancer cell lines in vitro and to reduce the risk and progression of these tumours in animal experiments (Bagga et al 2002, Terry et al 2003). Similar effects have also been observed for colorectal and prostate cancers Fish oils 429
(Calder et al 1998, Llor et al 2003, Stoll 2002).
Chemopreventative actions demonstrated by n-3 EFAs include suppression of neoplastic transformation, cell growth inhibition and enhanced apoptosis, and anti-angiogenicity (Rose & Connolly 1999). The proposed mechanisms for these are extensive, including the suppression of n-6 eicosanoid synthesis; influences on transcription factor activity, gene expression, and signal transduction pathways; effects on oestrogen metabolism; increased or decreased production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species, and influences on both insulin sensitivity and membrane fluidity (Larsson et al 2004). Ongoing research is attempting to elucidate the specific chemopreventative mechanisms of fish oils with the individual cancer cell lines.
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