Omega-3 Oils (Essential Oils)

Omega-3 Oils (Essential Oils)

"Fatty acids from fish oils and fatty fish [e.g. omega-3] can destroy the power station - the mitochondria - in certain types of cancer cells, making the cells commit suicide." Also, see Budwig.

Consuming Fish and Omega-3s Reduces Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Casting a wide net in the effort to prevent cancer, scientists have found that eating fish-and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil — may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Lead author Megan N. Hall, ScD, RD, of Columbia University and colleagues studied 21,376 men participating in the Physicians' Health Study over a span of 22 years. The researchers found that the men who ate the most fish had a 40% reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Similarly, those with the highest dietary intake of omega-3s from fish had a 26% lower risk of colorectal cancer, compared to the men with the lowest intake of omega-3s.

"Fish is the main dietary source of long-chain n-3 ['omega-3'] fatty acids, which have been suggested to play a protective role in colorectal cancer development in laboratory and animal studies," Hall explains. "Our results from this long-term prospective study suggest that intakes of fish and long-chain n-3 fatty acids from fish may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer."

The men's fish consumption, and in turn their omega-3 intake, was calculated from food-frequency questionnaires. Over the course of the study, 500 subjects were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

It's not clear why the protective effect apparently was greater for fish consumption in general than for omega-3s in particular. "We can't know for sure, but there could be another component of fish — for instance, vitamin D, which is found in fatty fish-that exerts a protective effect," says Hall. "It could also be an issue of additional measurement error in the assessment of omega-3 fatty acid intake from fish."

The findings, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, add to a growing body of evidence linking fish and omega-3s to protection against colorectal cancer. A meta-analysis by scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands recently suggested that increasing fish consumption could cut the incidence of colorectal cancer by 12%, and that each additional serving of fish reduced the risk by 4%.

In 2005, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published an analysis of data from 1 million participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) trial. The study found that people averaging less than a half-ounce of fish a day had a 40% higher relative risk of colorectal cancer than those eating the most fish, more than 1.75 ounces daily.

Hall cautions, however, that other studies have not shown protective effects of fish intake, saying additional research is needed.

Worldwide, colorectal cancers kill some 492,000 people annually. In the US, according to the American Cancer Society, cancers of the colon and rectum are the third most common type of cancer and cause of cancer death among both men and women. Colorectal cancers are expected to strike more than 101,000 Americans this year, and to result in almost 50,000 deaths.

TO LEARN MORE: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, May 11, 2008; abstract at . American Cancer Society: Learn About Colon and Rectum Cancer .

Reducing Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, diets high in vegetables and fruits have been associated with lower risk of colon cancer, while diets high in processed and/or red meats have been linked with a higher risk. To reduce your risk, the cancer society recommends:

Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources.

Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity raises the risk of colon cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men.

Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

Choose whole grains rather than processed (refined) grains.

Limit consumption of processed and red meats.

Get at least 30 minutes, preferably 45 to 60 minutes, of physical activity on five or more days of the week.

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The article reports on the role of omega-3 fatty acids in fighting cancer according to recent studies. It prevents the development of cancer by quelling dangerous inflammation and promoting healthy gene expression. It may also help to prevent infection and complications in people undergoing surgical treatment for cancer, and may help relieve one of the most devastating manifestations of cancer, the fatigue and weight loss known as cachexia.