EPA and DHA may fight both liver cancer and prostate cancer according to two new studies

April 04, 2006

It has been known for some time that Omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit certain cancer cells. In this study researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine tested the effects of the two Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils (EPA and DHA) and also the Omega-6 fatty acid arachadonic acid on liver cancer cells. The risk of liver cancer increases with age, with hepatitis B or C infection, and with cirrhosis. The incidence has doubled since 1975. Both EPA and also DHA had a dose dependent ability to inhibit liver cancer cells. The Omega-6 fatty acid lacked this ability. DHA caused the termination of the liver cancer cells by calling into play an enzyme known as PARP (poly ADP-ribose polymerase) a tell-tale sign that the cancer cells are dying. A protein called beta-catenin promotes the growth of tumor cells, and both EPA and DHA inhibited this tumor promoting protein. A second recent study appearing in the British Journal of Cancer shows that both EPA and DHA helped stop the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells whereas arachidonic acid (an Omega-6 fat) actually had a stimulating effect. The Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers presented their study at this weeks annual meeting of The American Association for Cancer Research

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Studies show it is not the caffeine which helps decrease the risk of developing diabetes but probably the polyphenols.

In diabetic retinopathy the tiny blood vessels in the retina and macula of the eye first swell and then leak fluid into the retina. Vision can become seriously distorted and blurred and in some cases the condition can progress to blindness. Apparently the elevated blood sugar characteristic of diabetes triggers formation of the superoxide free radical that then damages blood vessel walls. In this study it was found that protective Superoxide Dismutase was low in the retinal cells of isolated retinal tissue and in diabetic animals. Improving Superoxide Dismutase levels prevented elevated glucose from causing free radical inflammation, and reduced the death of the retinal blood vessel cells. In the diabetic animals supplementing with Alpha-Lipoic Acid helped restore Superoxide Dismutase activity in their retinas. Superoxide Dismutase activity may help prevent retinal damage and the progression of diabetic retinopathy. The research was performed at the Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit and is published in the April 2006 issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.