Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent skin cancer
A study led by researchers at The University of Manchester reveals that omega-3 fatty acids help prevent skin cancer. This study, conducted by Professor Lesley Rhodes Led, Professor of Experimental Dermatology Center from the Photobiology Unit at the University, is the first clinical trial that shows the effects of fish oils on skin immunity in healthy volunteers.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids, that is they cannot be synthesized by the body. In other words, these fatty acids must be absorbed from the diet for proper functioning of the body. Numerous studies have shown over time that omega 3 and omega 6 have multiple beneficial effects on health: cardiovascular, immune, cancer, cognitive functions. However, some beneficial effects of these compounds are controversial.
But now researchers at The University of Manchester have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, due to immune stimulation, can prevent skin cancer. It seems that these fatty acids combat skin cancer by reducing sunlight-induced immunosuppression. Professor Rhodes, who is based in the Photobiology Unit at the University’s School of Medicine and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said this is the first study of its kind conducted on humans. She added that it took several years to reach this stage and the results are promising.
Patients enrolled voluntarily in this study received a dose of 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (equivalent to a portion and a half of oily fish) or placebo daily and were exposed for 8, 15 or 30 minutes at a light solar light using a special machine. Results showed that immunosuppression of those received supplements of omega-3 fatty acids was reduced by 50% compared with those who received placebo. It should be said however that these differences were evident only for exposure of 8 to 15 minutes, the differences were insignificant for 30 minutes exposure.
These results are important in terms of prevention of skin cancer because it was shown that sunscreens are used inappropriately and only during holidays. In addition, the incidence of skin cancer is on a constant increase in recent decades and the main cause is exposure to sunlight. According to Cancer Research UK, in the UK in 2012 there were approximately 100 000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer, mostly basal cell carcinomas. Skin cancers are cancers that can be prevented so it is important that people be aware about these protective measures. Professor Rhodes mentioned that omega-3 fatty acids is an extra measure of protection and should not replace sunscreens or physical protection.