Taking Omega-3 Supplements May Help Prevent Skin Cancer

This came out yesterday

Results of the study, funded by the Association for International Cancer Research, found that taking a regular dose of fish oils boosted skin immunity to sunlight. Specifically, it also reduced sunlight-induced suppression of the immune system, known as immunosuppression, which affects the body’s ability to fight skin cancer and infection. The findings have been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this month.

Professor Rhodes, who is based in the Photobiology Unit at the University’s School of Medicine and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said it was the first time the research had been carried out on humans. “There has been research in this area carried out on mice in the past but this is the first time that there has been a clinical trial directly in people,” she said. “It has taken a number of years to get to this stage and the findings are very exciting.

“This study adds to the evidence that omega-3 is a potential nutrient to protect against skin cancer. Although the changes we found when someone took the oil were small, they suggest that a continuous low level of chemoprevention from taking omega-3 could reduce the risk of skin cancer over an individual’s lifetime.”

Patients who volunteered for the trial took a 4g dose of omega-3, which is about one and a half portions of oily fish, daily and were then exposed to the equivalent of either 8, 15 or 30 minutes of summer midday sun in Manchester using a special light machine. Other patients took a placebo, before being exposed to the light machine. Immunosuppression was 50% lower in people who took the supplement and were exposed to 8 and 15 minutes of sun compared with people who did not take the supplement. The study showed little influence on those in the 30 minute group.

The findings are important in the battle against skin cancer because previous research has shown that sunscreens are often applied inadequately and only worn during holiday periods. However, Professor Rhodes stressed that the omega-3 was not a substitute for sunscreen and physical protection, and that omega-3 should be regarded as an additional small measure to help protect skin from sun damage. The fish oil has already been shown to have many beneficial health effects such as helping with cardiovascular disease, meaning taking the supplement could lead to a range of potential health benefits

  1. #1 by Hein Vandenbergh on February 28, 2013 - 2:25 am

    This is VERY interesting, mainly because the final paragraph:

    “The fish oil has already been shown to have many beneficial health effects such as helping with cardiovascular disease”.

    Many studies over time have shown the supposed cardiovascular benefits of Omega 3 etc. HOWEVER, a very good study was published recently which showed that in vivo, i.e. in the real world, there was NO difference in long-term cardiovascular outcomes between controls and those supplemented with Omega 3 in their diets. But when comparing controls with those who actually received their Omega 3 by eating fish, rather than taking daily capsular supplements, there was a very significant improvement in long-term outcomes.

    It was proposed that there was ‘something else’ in the whole beasty which made the fatty acid more bioactive and effective.

    One wonders…….

    Meanwhile, I hedge my bets: an Omega # or whatever capsule every morning [with the multivite, vit D etc] AND a smoked-salmon-wrap from Cafe Evolve for lunch [am eating it right now!], as well as either fresh whole or smoked whole salmon 3 nights a week. Love ’em!!

  2. #2 by richhawkins1 on February 28, 2013 - 3:39 pm

    Great article!

    I would also add the omega 3 oils with added antioxidants like astaxanthin have been found to reduce the effects of too much sun (photo-aging) and enable you to be out in the sun longer with a reduced risk of burning.

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