Omega-3 and gastrointestinal cancer


On one hand, EPA and DHA have protective effects against chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer, since they have multiple beneficial antitumor functions (against proliferation, cell survival, angiogenesis, inflammation, and metastasis). On the other hand, Western diet (high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 intake) is associated with the development of esophageal, breast, gastric, colon, and pancreatic and prostate cancers, and studies on the fatty acid level in patients with bladder, pancreatic, lung, and esophageal cancer have shown low concentrations of plasma omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (55 to 88%) in comparison with healthy persons.

Gastric cancer, the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of mortality worldwide, begins by an Helicobacter pylori (a type of bacteria) infection that progresses to chronic gastritis; this bacteria is the most important risk factor for gastric cancer, although other factors increase the risk. Recent studies with EPA and DHA show that they could reduce various Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric diseases and play even cancer preventive roles.

The evidence suggests that higher consumption of omega-3 is associated with lower risk of gastrointestinal cancer development in animals and humans. Recent studies suggest that increasing omega-3 delays the progression of stomach cancer and could delay or prevent gastrointestinal cancer in high-risk patients. Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in combination with other antitumor agents can improve the efficacy of gastrointestinal cancer prevention.



Park JM, Jeong M, Kim EH et al. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Intake to Regulate Helicobacter pylori-Associated Gastric Diseases as Nonantimicrobial Dietary Approach. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:712363. doi: 10.1155/2015/712363. Epub 2015 Aug 3.