Omega 3 curbs precancerous growths in those prone to bowel cancer

Mar 17, 2010

A purified form of an omega 3 cuts the number and size of precancerous bowel growths (polyps) in people whose genetic make-up predisposes them to bowel cancer, finds research published ahead of print in the journal Gut.

Furthermore, this particular omega 3 ( or EPA) seems to be as effective as the prescription medicine used to treat familial bowel polyps, but without the associated cardiovascular side effects.

The researchers base their findings on 55 patients, all of whom had the inherited genetic mutation that prompts the development of in the bowel - known as familial adenomatous polyposis, or FAP for short.

People with FAP are at significantly increased risk of developing bowel cancer and require surgery to remove large sections of their bowel. Subsequently, some also need regular monitoring.

All 55 patients had previously undergone surgery and were being monitored by endoscopy - a procedure involving a camera on the end of a flexible tube passed through the rectum.

Twenty eight of the patients were randomly assigned to six months of treatment with 2 g daily of a new highly purified form of the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) EPA. The other 27 were given the same amount of a dummy treatment ().

The EPA capsules were enteric coated to prevent the indigestion that can sometimes be associated with omega 3 supplements. Dietary omega 3 PUFA mainly comes from , such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.

An assessment of the number and size of polyps at the beginning and end of the six month study period revealed significant differences between the two groups of patients.

The number of polyps increased by almost 10% among those treated with the placebo, but fell by more than 12% among those treated with the EPA capsules, representing a difference of almost 22.5%.

This was still clinically significant, even after taking account of influential factors, such as age and sex.

Similarly, polyp size increased by more than 17% among those in the placebo group but fell by more than 12.5% in those taking the EPA capsules, representing a difference of just under 30%.

The authors note that the effects of EPA were similar to those produced by celecoxib, which is used to help curb the growth of new and existing polyps in patients with FAP.

The use of celecoxib has been associated with harmful cardiovascular side effects in older patients. In this study, EPA produced few side effects and these were no more common than those produced by the placebo.

This formulation of omega 3 might also help to prevent bowel cancer in people with the common non-familial form of bowel polyps, suggest the authors.

As omega 3 PUFAs in general are safe and even good for cardiovascular health, EPA could be especially suitable for older patients at risk of both and heart disease, they say.

Explore further: Unplanned hospitalizations with GI cancer patients common

Related Stories

Omega-3's no help for Crohn's sufferers

Apr 08, 2008

An international study led by Dr. Brian Feagan of Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada has found that omega-3 fatty acids are ineffective for managing Crohn’s disease. The research ...

Omega-3s ease depressive symptoms related to menopause

Jan 28, 2009

Omega-3s ease psychological distress and depressive symptoms often suffered by menopausal and perimenopausal women, according to researchers at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine. Their study, published in the ...

Study finds that vioxx reduces the risk of colorectal polyps

Aug 30, 2006

A researcher from Dartmouth reports the results of a clinical trial that shows that the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor rofecoxib (VIOXX®) reduces the risk of colorectal adenomas, or polyps. Polyps are benign tumors that ...

Recommended for you

Blood biomarker may detect lung cancer

13 hours ago

A new study shows that patients with stage I to stage III non-small cell lung cancer have different metabolite profiles in their blood than those of patients who are at risk but do not have lung cancer. The study abstract ...

ACG: Recent increase in incidence of young-onset CRC

Oct 20, 2014

(HealthDay)—The incidence of young-onset colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing, and the disease is more aggressive pathologically. These findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the American ...

User comments : 0