Prostate cancer: the inhibiting effect of omega-3s on cancer cells

Omega-3s are full of good health benefits. Results indicate that EPA may help fight prostate cancer.

In 2013, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that omega-3 fatty acids, in high blood levels, increased the risk of prostate cancer by 71%. However, a more recent study by the University of the State of Washington confuses this assertion. Scientists have been interested in the interaction of long-chain omega-3s on prostate cancer. And they discovered a new protective mechanism.

Omega 3s act as inhibitors of the development of cancerous cells

The researchers used human prostate cancer cell lines, to which they added lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) to activate the cells. Then, they repeated the experiment but first exposing the cells to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). They discovered that when EPA is added before LPA, the number of viable cancer cells decreases after 48 and 72 hours. EPA rapidly activates FFA4, a signal inhibiting cancer cell development.

Effective doses still to be specified

Although this association between the FFA4 receptor and omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for the prevention of prostate cancer, the study did not make it possible to determine a necessary dose of EPA. Researchers are working on the pharmacodynamic properties of omega-3s to determine the optimal intake for prevention.


Liu Z: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Other FFA4 Agonists Inhibit Growth Factor Signaling in Human Prostate Cancer Cells. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. p 380-394

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