Colorectal Cancer Patients Should Add Omega 3 to Their Diet

Dietary oily fish content and other omega 3 fatty acids can benefit patients suffering from bowel (colorectal) cancer, and even lower their risk of death.

Dietary oily fish content and other omega 3 fatty acids can benefit patients suffering from bowel (colorectal) cancer, and even lower their risk of death.

New research published in Gut involved two long-term studies: the 1976 Nurses’ Health Study of 121,700 US registered female nurses between 30 an 55 years and the 1986 Health Professionals Follow Up Study of 51,529 mal health professionals between 40 and 75 years.

All participants were required to complete a detailed questionnaire every two years and report their food intake every four years.

During the study, 1,659 participants had developed colorectal cancer of which 561 died. A total of 169 of these deaths were classified as “deaths from the disease during an average monitoring period of 10.5 years”.

Results showed that study participants with a higher dietary intake of omega 3 from oily fish were also physically active, took multivitamins, consumed more vitamin D and fiber, less likely to smoke, and even drank alcohol. These were all considered factors associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

The team highlighted the participants diagnosed with colorectal cancer whose diets contained higher levels of marine omega 3 had a lower risk of dying from the disease.

The reduced risk particularly applied to food sources and supplements, even though few people used omega 3 fish oil supplements.

Also, increasing the intake of marine omega 3 by at least 0.15 daily following initial diagnoses correlated to a 70% lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer.

On the other hand, reducing the daily intake was associated with a 10% increased risk of death.

The findings outlined that omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), can actually suppress tumor growth and restrict blood supply to harmful cells.

According to the researchers, these findings provide the first line of population-based evidence for the potentially positive impact of oily fish omega 3 fatty acids on bowel cancer survival. “If replicated by other studies, our results support the clinical recommendation of increasing marine omega 3 PUFAs among patients with bowel cancer,” the authors concluded.