Are fish or plant omega-3 fats better for cancer screening?

Seafood and fish protect against cancer better than flaxseed and soybean oil

If people want to protect themselves from cancer, they should generally eat more fatty fish, eat seafood or use supplements with omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers have now found that omega-3 fatty acids from fish and seafood are more effective in preventing cancer than from flaxseed oil and other oils.

The University of Guelph researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids are very effective in preventing cancer. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Nutritional Biochemistry".

Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit tumor growth and tumor development

"This study is the first to compare the cancer-fighting potency of plant-based and marine omega-3 fatty acids to the development of breast tumors," explains Professor David Ma from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. There are indications that both omega-3 fatty acids from plants and sources from the sea protect against cancer. The scientists now wanted to find out which form was more effective in preventing cancer.

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:

There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids: a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is plant-based and is found in edible seeds (linseed) and in various oils such as soybean oil and hemp oil. In contrast, EPA and DHA come from living things or plants from the sea, such as fish, algae and phytoplankton.

What is Her-2?

The study delivered various forms of omega-3 fatty acids to mice with a very aggressive form of human breast cancer (HER-2). HER-2 affects approximately 25 percent of women with breast cancer. Unfortunately, the prognosis for a cure for this type of cancer is very poor.

What was the protective effect like in the laboratory mice?

"The mice were exposed to the various omega-3 fatty acids even before tumors developed, which allowed us to compare how effective the fatty acids are in prevention," said Professor David Ma in a press release from the University of Guelph. It is known that EPA and DHA can inhibit breast tumor growth, but no one has directly investigated how effective these omega-3s are compared to ALA, the expert said.

Omega-3 fatty acids from the sea massively reduce tumor size

The researchers found that marine-based omega-3 fatty acids reduce the size of tumors by 60 to 70 percent and the number of tumors by 30 percent. However, higher doses of plant-based fatty acids should have the same effect as marine-based omega-3 fatty acids, the authors suspected.

How do omega-3 fatty acids work?

Omega-3 fatty acids prevent and fight cancer by activating certain genes that are associated with the immune system and block pathways for tumor growth, the doctors explain. It seems that EPA and DHA can do this task more effectively. Most people don't consume a lot of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and fish. However, an improved healthier diet with more omega-3 fatty acids could reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eat two to three servings of fish a week

According to the results of the study, people should consume two to three servings of fish a week to achieve the protective effect found, the authors advise. In addition to certain foods that contain EPA and DHA, dietary supplements and functional foods such as omega-3 eggs or DHA milk may have similar cancer-preventing effects, Professor Ma adds in the press release.

Further research is expected to consider other forms of breast cancer

In further investigations, the experts want to investigate the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on other forms of breast cancer. Given the significant benefits that omega-3 fatty acids can have in fighting a very aggressive form of breast cancer, omega-3 fatty acids are likely to be beneficial in protecting against other cancers too, doctors say. (as)

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