The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is mainly found in fish and is considered essential. Researchers have now been able to prove that DHA is even effective against tumors.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the human organism. However, the body cannot produce them itself but has to absorb them through food. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is mainly found in cold-water sea fish, is considered to be a particularly important fatty acid. A recent study by Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain now suggests that DHA could even play a role in the fight against cancer. Studies show that DHA kills tumor cells.
Omega-3 fatty acid DHA inhibits tumor growth
The research team describes its results, which were published in the current issue of the renowned specialist journal “Cell Metabolism”, as an “extraordinary discovery”. “Hungry for fat cells, tumor cells in an acidic environment rush greedily for DHA, but cannot store it properly, so they poison themselves.” The result: “They die off,” according to a press release from the university. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids act on tumor cells through a phenomenon called ferroptosis, a type of cell death. The tumors had regressed within a few days.
For their study, the researchers worked with a 3D tumor cell culture system called spheroids. They also used mice with tumors to study the effects of DHA. Here, too, it was found that mice that ingested DHA through their diet had slower tumor growth than those on a conventional diet.
New opportunities in the fight against cancer thanks to omega-3 foods
According to scientists, this opens up new possibilities in the fight against cancer. Oncologists and nutrition specialists could work hand in hand in the future to make cancer therapy even more effective.
Long-chain, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids have already been proven to have therapeutic potential in other diseases. They can inhibit inflammatory processes in the body, prevent or reduce lipid metabolism disorders and also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.