Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Slow Growth of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells

Date of presentation: April 9, 2013

In a laboratory study, researchers from the Fox Chase Cancer Center and Penn State University found that omega-3 fatty acids slowed the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells. These results were presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon and other types of oily fish. Some research has suggested that these compounds may interfere with the ability of cancer cells to grow or survive.

To explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer cells, researchers evaluated several breast cancer cell lines in the laboratory. Some of the cell lines were hormone receptor-positive and some were triple-negative.

Treatment with omega-3 and its metabolites (the smaller molecules that it gets broken down to) slowed the growth of all of the breast cancer cell lines, but the effect was strongest in the triple-negative cells. The metabolites of omega-3 also reduced the ability of the triple-negative cells to move.

Based on these results, the researchers have begun to study omega-3 fatty acids in mice. The effects of omega-3 fatty acids in humans with triple-negative breast cancer are still unknown, and could be different than what was seen in the laboratory. Women with breast cancer should not make changes to their diet without first talking with their doctor.

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Pogash TJ et al. Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and their metabolites preferentially inhibit cell proliferation and motility in triple negative over luminal breast cancer cells. Presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Washington, DC. April 6-10, 2013. Abstract 2600.

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