OMEGA-3 fatty acids, contained in oily fish such as salmon and trout, selectively inhibit growth and induce cell death in early and late-stage oral and skin cancers, according to new research from scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.
In vitro tests showed omega-3 fatty acids induced cell death in malignant and pre-malignant cells at doses which did not affect normal cells, suggesting they have the potential to be used in both the treatment and prevention of certain skin and oral cancers. Humans cannot make omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in large quantities and so we must acquire them from our diet.
The scientists were studying a particular type of cancer called squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC). Squamous cells are the main part of the outermost layers of the skin, and SCC is one of the major forms of skin cancer. However, squamous cells also occur in the lining of the digestive tract, lungs, and other areas of the body. Oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are the sixth most common cancer worldwide and are difficult and very expensive to treat.
In the experiments, the scientists grew cell cultures in the lab from several different cells lines to which they added fatty acids. The cell lines included both malignant oral and skin SCCs, along with pre-malignant cells and normal skin and oral cells.
Professor Kenneth Parkinson, head of the Oral Cancer Research Group at Queen Mary’s Institute of Dentistry, said: “We found that the omega-3 fatty acid selectively inhibited the growth of the malignant and pre-malignant cells at doses which did not affect the normal cells.
“Surprisingly, we discovered this was partly due to an over-stimulation of a key growth factor (epidermal growth factor) which triggered cell death. This is a novel mechanism of action of these fatty acids.”
While previous research has linked omega-3 fatty acids with the prevention of a number of cancers, there has been very little work done on oral cancers or normal cells.
Dr. Zacharoula Nikolakopoulou, carried out the research while studying her Ph.D at Queen Mary, under the supervision of Professor Parkinson and Professor Adina Michael-Titus, who is co-ordinating a programme of work on the protection of the nervous system with omega-3 fatty acids, in the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma at Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute.
Nikolakopoulou said: “As the doses needed to kill the cancer cells do not affect normal cells, especially with one particular fatty acid we used called Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), there is potential for using omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of skin and oral cancers.
“It may be that those at an increased risk of such cancers - or their recurrence - could benefit from increased omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, as the skin and oral cancers are often easily accessible, there is the potential to deliver targeted doses locally via aerosols or gels. However further research is needed to define the appropriate therapeutic doses.”
fine, it seems to work in the lab so now with a $100M and 10yrs of animal/human testing there may be an answer to the question. Nothing for me to buy or sell AMRN over but I certainly admire the docs as they pursue the study dollars for their scientific curiosity. Betcha the British National Health System passes on financing and leaves to capitalists then will whine at the cost for the new (if ever) indication.
That is tremendous news for Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) products!
Now we should see omega 3 triglyceride product sales increase.
I am worried though for products like Vascepa that are not triglycerides but ethyl esters of EPA.
Ethyl esters lack the molecular backbone found in triglycerides, these synthetic omega-3 molecules are not only less effective at delivering EFAs to the body during digestion and metabolism, they also pose
potential side effects.
New research confirms that concentrated fish oil in the triglyceride form is 70% more bioavailable than in ethyl ester form. Because EFAs in triglyceride supplements are absorbed better during metabolism, overall levels of EPA and DHA in consumers of triglyceride-based fish oils far surpass those in people who choose ethyl esters.
Ethyl esters have only been in the human diet for roughly 20 years. As such, the long-term effects are not yet known.
Since ethyl esters lack the molecular backbone naturally found in triglycerides, our bodies must find one during digestion in order to rebuild ethyl esters into triglycerides prior to absorption. This can mean taking a backbone from an existing molecule, which subsequently tries to replace its backbone in the same manner, leaving a surplus of free fatty acids. This competitive process can increase free radical activity in the body and raise oxidative stress levels generally associated with negative health outcomes.
So what is good for triglyceride forms of EPA is bad for ethyl ester forms of EPA (like vascepa).
You are an idiot. This news does not create a brick wall against ethyl esters Ethyl esters (like Vacepa) will still have a place in the market no matter what you say. They are just too inexpensive to go away and they do at least offer some of the advantages of the full natural triglyceride form of EPA. So people who are unable to obtain the highest quality pure natural form of EPA will shop for the cheap ethyl ester forms. Some people won't mind settling for ethyl esters. And they will be so cheap that you can take four and five times the dose level to try to match the bioavailability of the natural free triglyceride form of EPA.
Ethyl esters (like Vacepa) are not going anywhere soon my friend. It will be years before they are phased out.