Omega-3s could be particularly helpful to obese women in reducing their risk of developing breast cancer, says a new study published in Cancer Prevention Research.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like fish oil, and some plant and nut oils, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties that might be the reason why they are specially effective for obese women. They might be abating the inflammation rates associated with obesity that lead to breast cancer.
The researchers gathered data from a clinical trial involving 266 normal-weight, overweight and obese, postmenopausal women with high breast density (thought to be a risk factor for breast cancer). The breast density of the women was measured for 2 years; the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that women with high breast density tend to have a four- to sixfold higher risk of developing the cancer.
The women were divided into 5 groups: 2 groups were administered with 60mg- and 30mg-dosage of estrogen drug Raloxifene respectively; 1 group had the prescription omega-3 drug Lovaza (4 gm); another group had 30 mg of Raloxifene combined with 4 gm of Lovaza; the last group was the control one, and received no treatment.
Two years later, it was found that increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood were correlated with reduced breast density — but, this link was found in only 20% of the participants, namely those who were obese.
Dr Andrea Manni, one of the authors, explains that omega-3s, and specially the one named DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), might be conferring protection to obese postmenopausal women preferentially. She says that their approach constitutes a personalised way to prevent breast cancer.
Another finding is that Raloxifene and Lovaza in combination, as opposed to individual treatments, yields better results in terms of lowering triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL).