12 January - 20 June 2016

Omega 3 and skin cancer and breast cancer

6 March 13

Consuming omega-3 fish oils can help to prevent skin cancer, according to the first clinical trial exploring the influence of fish oils on the skin immunity of humans.  One study, published recently in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, is believed to be the first to provide unequivocal evidence that omega-3s reduce cancer risk.  For their study, the researchers created a novel transgenic mouse that both produces omega-3 fatty acids and develops aggressive mammary tumours.  The team compared those animals to mice genetically engineered only to develop the same tumours.  The mice producing omega-3s developed only two-thirds as many tumours – and tumours were also 30 per cent smaller – as compared to the control mice.  Another recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition led by Professor Lesley Rhodes from the University of Manchester (the first to be translated into research on humans), analysed the effect of taking omega-3 on 79 healthy volunteers and found that consuming omega-3 fish oils can help to prevent skin cancer. The participants were randomised to receive five grams of a supplement containing five grams of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (70% EPA plus 10% DHA) or a control lipid daily for three months.  Using a light machine that provided solar-simulated radiation (SSR), the participants were exposed to the equivalent of 8, 15 or 30 minutes of summer midday sun.   Rhodes et al found that immunosuppression (sunlight-induced immunity suppression - which affects the body's ability to combat skin cancer and infection) was 50% lower in people who took the supplement and were exposed to 8 and 15 minutes of SSR, compared with people who did not take the supplement.  The researchers however did stress that the omega-3 was not a substitute for sunscreen and physical protection, and that omega-3 should be regarded as an additional small measure to help protect skin from sun damage.    

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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