"Our study showed that altering the fatty acid ratio found in the typical Western diet to include more omega-3 fatty acids and decreasing the amount of omega-6 fatty acids reduced prostate cancer tumor growth rates and PSA levels in mice," said senior author Dr. William J. Aronson.
In the study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, mice were implanted with human prostate cancer cells and then divided into two groups. One group was fed the typical Western diet -- an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of about 15-to-1 -- while the intervention group was fed a diet with a ratio of about 1-to-1. Both groups were fed identical 20-percent-fat diets.
In the intervention group, cancer cells grew 22 percent slower than in the Western diet group. The intervention group's tumor growth rates, final tumor size, and PSA levels were all lower. A diet with increased levels of omega-3s was also associated with an 83 percent reduction in the inflammatory chemical Tumor Prostaglandin E-2 (PGE-2).
"This is an initial animal-model study that is one of the first to show the impact of diet on lowering an inflammatory response known to promote prostate tumor progression in tumors," said Aronson. "More research needs to be done before clinical recommendations can be made, but the finding is significant."
Aronson added that, while they would not recommend prostate cancer patients change their fatty acid intake just yet, he and colleagues were conducting a randomized study of men to study the effects of dietary changes on prostate tissue levels of COX-2 and PGE-2.
Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, however, has been encouraging both men and women to eat more omega-3 fatty acids for years. "As conventional scientists are increasingly discovering, food really is the best medicine for preventing disease, and omega-3 oils offer some of the most beneficial natural medicine in the world."
Healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids include coldwater fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and cod liver oil.