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Long-term gains of popular diets need further evidence

Posted:  Thursday, November 20, 2014

Including an omega-3 rich fish in the diet is known to have many advantages. Turns out, the health benefits of a fishy diet is still being unravelled, as a review has found irrefutable evidence that eating the right kind of fatty fish, in the right amount, and prepared in the right way can prevent the development of adenocarcinomas. A high percentage of cancers of the breast, prostate, pancreas, colon and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract are adenocarcinomas.

The review published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer: An International Journal, found that the amount of fish consumed daily, the nature of fish, and the method of preparation or preservation of fish can impact its ability to lower cancer risk.

The researchers found that the Italian approach to food, which incorporates olive oil (low on omega-6) for cooking, and fish in the non-salted or non-fried form (high in omega-3) was highly beneficial. Among Italian subjects, consuming fish twice a week was associated with a significant lower risk of cancers such as ovarian, endometrial, pharyngeal, oesophageal, gastric, colonic, rectal, and pancreatic as compared to those who ate fish less than once a week.

The researchers found a similar risk-lowering effect against colorectal, breast, and advanced prostate cancers with fish oil supplements. Another study revealed that a high omega-3 intake from fish and fish oil supplements was linked to a 23% reduction in total cancer mortality.

According to the researchers, an ample intake of omega-3 fats from fatty fish could modestly decrease the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, similar to the way a daily low-dose aspirin would. Expression of this enzyme significantly contributes to the genesis and progression of adenocarcinomas. They also found that COX-2 is significantly expressed in the pre-malignant and early stages of adenocarcinomas, but is sometimes lost as the cancer matures.

Thus, they concluded that COX-2 inhibition by essential fish fats such as omega-3 fatty acids could possibly prevent rather than treat cancers giving us more than one reason to enjoy fish in the diet!

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