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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nutrition Noteworthy

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Effects of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Breast Cancer


Epidemiological observations reveal that Japanese women, who eat a low-fat diet with a high fish consumption, have a much lower incidence of breast cancer than North American and European women who eat a higher fat diet rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. This observation has been supported by experimental research that omega-6 fatty acids like corn and safflower oil can promote tumor growth, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can inhibit tumor growth. Omega-3 fatty acids serve a protective role against breast cancer by competitively inhibiting harmful omega-6 metabolites that may be responsible for tumor promotion. This research holds promise for possible clinical applications including breast cancer risk screening, dietary prevention, and therapeutic dietary intervention for breast cancer patients.

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