The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is saying that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, primarily found in fish and seafood, may have a positive role in colorectal cancer prevention. This statement is in accordance with results presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held in December '09 in Houston.
“Experimental data have shown benefits of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in colorectal carcinogenesis, ranging from reduced tumor growth, suppression of angiogenesis and inhibition of metastasis,” said Sangmi Kim, Ph.D., a fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, a unit of NIH), Research Triangle Park, N.C. “Our finding of inverse association between dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and distal large bowel cancer in white participants adds additional support to the hypothesis.”
Kim and colleagues studied the link between polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and distal large bowel cancer using data from a population-based control study in which they recruited 1,509 white participants (716 cancer cases and 787 controls) and 369 black participants (213 cancer cases and 156 controls). Nineteen polyunsaturated fatty acids were assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire, which included 124 questions on food items. The researchers used the questionnaire to collect information on the frequency and amount of foods typically consumed in the past 12 months.
Patients who consumed more long-chain omega-3 fatty acids had a reduced risk of distal large bowel cancer. Compared to the lowest quartile, fat intake in the highest quartile was linked with a 39 percent reduced risk of cancer. These numbers seem fairly strong indication of the positive nature of omega-3 fatty acids in colorectal cancer.
Oddly, the researchers detected these associations in white participants, but not in black participants.
“We were surprised that the association was not also observed among blacks,” Kim said. “We considered several possible explanations but were not able to account for this difference with the data we had. This finding warrants future study, but we should be careful about drawing conclusions about potential racial differences in the benefit from long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from this study. An increase in dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which mainly come from fish and seafood, may be beneficial in the prevention of distal large bowel cancer,” Kim said.