BADALONA, SPAIN. Several epidemiological studies have shown that high fat diets are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. Other studies have shown that diets rich in fish and fish oil supplements are protective against colon cancer. Spanish medical researchers have released the results of a major study aimed at determining if and how polyunsaturated fatty acids play a role in the progression of adenomas (benign polyps) to full-blown colon cancer. The study involved 27 patients with sporadic benign polyps of the rectum or colon, 22 patients with cancer of the colon or rectum, and 12 subjects with a normal colon. The researchers measured the fatty acid profile of blood plasma and biopsy samples of the lining of the colon from both diseased and normal areas. They found no differences between polyp patients and patients with a normal colon as far as plasma profile and normal colon lining profile was concerned. However, there was a significant difference between the fatty acid profile of normal colon tissue and diseased colon tissue in adenoma patients. Diseased lining tissue was found to have higher levels of linoleic acid, dihomogammalinolenic acid, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and lower levels of alpha-linolenic and arachidonic acids. There was also a very significant stepwise reduction in EPA content of diseased colon lining from the benign polyp stage progressing to the most severe colon cancer stage.
VALHALLA, NEW YORK. The incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma is growing rapidly among persons with fair skin. It is estimated that one in 75 Americans will develop melanoma within their lifetime. Melanoma has a pronounced tendency to spread to other organs (metastasis) and the 5-year survival rate for metastatic melanoma is less than 10%. There is growing evidence that diet can influence the risk of developing melanoma. It is now believed that a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids stimulates the growth of melanoma and other cancers whereas omega-3 fatty acids suppress the growth of cancer cells.
BARCELONA, SPAIN. Chemotherapy is associated with weight loss and decreased health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Spanish physicians report that providing patients undergoing chemotherapy with a nutritional supplement containing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), a main component of fish oil, is effective in preventing weight loss and deterioration of HRQOL. Their clinical trial included 11 patients with advanced (stage IV) colorectal cancer (CRC) who were going to receive chemotherapy (5-Fluorouracil + Oxaliplatin + Folinic acid or Capecitabine). The group was divided in half with 6 patients receiving standard nutritional counselling and 5 receiving standard nutritional counselling as well as a supplement containing 16 g protein, 6.1 g fat and 1 g EPA plus antioxidants. On average, the supplement group received 1.6 g/day of EPA. Height, weight and HRQOL were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks of treatment.