Omega 3’s and breast cancer

In a British Journal of Cancer study, a French research team notes that cells in breast tumors can be made more sensitive to chemotherapy when lipids in the membrane are enriched with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid.

To test this claim, researchers recruited 25 breast cancer patients whose cancer had spread to other parts of the body. At this stage, prognosis is not good, so treatments are aimed at delay of death and symptom relief. In nearly two-thirds of the subjects, cancer had spread to the liver. Expected survival time in these cases was about 14 months. After receiving a 1.8-gram DHA supplement daily for two to six months, the average survival time for the entire group was 22 months.

But this result was most impressive: Among 12 subjects who achieved the highest blood levels of DHA, average survival time was nearly three full years. That’s a lot of extra time when you’re expecting just 14 months.

Of course, we can’t assume that DHA supplementation would prompt even greater survival rates in women whose cancer had not spread beyond the breast. But for most patients there are many plusses with virtually no negatives in taking omega-3 supplements.

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