Monday, August 05, 2013

Could eating salmon twice a week protect against skin cancer? Omega-3 oils found to destroy harmful tumour cells

This is a study in laboratory glassware only

Eating salmon twice a week could protect against skin cancer, according to new research.  Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish -  which include sardines, mackerel and trout - destroy malignant cells in skin and mouth tumours while leaving healthy ones alone, experiments show.

The finding could even lead to the development of aerosols or gels containing the molecules that zap skin and mouth cancers.

Experiments found the omega-3 fatty acids stopped induced cell death in both early and late stages of the diseases.

Professor Kenneth Parkinson, of Queen Mary, University of London, said: ‘We found the omega-3 fatty acid selectively inhibited the growth of the malignant and pre malignant cells at doses which did not affect the normal cells.

‘Surprisingly, we discovered this was partly due to an over stimulation of a key growth factor (epidermal growth factor) which triggered cell death. This is a novel mechanism of action of these fatty acids.'

Britons are currently advised to eat fish at least twice a week, including one portion of oily fish. A portion is 140g or six ounces.

The finding published online in the journal Carcinogenesis suggests they could be used in both the treatment and prevention of certain skin and oral cancers.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids cannot be made by humans in large quantities so we must acquire them from our diet.

As well as oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts are also a good source of the molecule that have been shown to ward off heart disease.

The researchers were studying a particular type of cancer called SCC (squamous cell carcinoma), one of the major forms of the disease.

Squamous cells are the main part of the outermost layers of the skin, and also occur in the lining of the digestive tract, lungs and other areas of the body.

Oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are the sixth most common cancer worldwide and are difficult and very expensive to treat.

The scientists grew cultures from several different cells lines, including both malignant oral and skin SCCs along with pre malignant cells and normal skin and oral cells, to which they added the fatty acids.

While previous research has linked omega-3 fatty acids with the prevention of a number of cancers, there has been very little work done on oral cancers or normal cells.

Lab member Dr Zacharoula Nikolakopoulou said: ‘As the doses needed to kill the cancer cells do not affect normal cells, especially with one particular fatty acid we used called EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), there is potential for using omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of skin and oral cancers.

‘It may be those at an increased risk of such cancers, or their recurrence, could benefit from increased omega-3 fatty acids.

'Moreover, as the skin and oral cancers are often easily accessible, there is the potential to deliver targeted doses locally via aerosols or gels. However further research is needed to define the appropriate therapeutic doses.'


The chemical make-up of your body could indicate how wealthy you are: Rich and poor people's bodies 'contain different toxins'

Another confirmation of the importance of social class

You can tell how wealthy a person is based on the chemical build-up in their body, new research suggests.

Scientists at the University of Exeter discovered that harmful chemicals build up in the bodies of people of all social standings, but that the type of toxicants depends on the person’s wealth.

For example, wealthier people tend to have more of the chemicals associated with eating fish and using sunscreen in their bodies.

By contrast, less affluent people are more likely to have a build-up of the chemicals associated with smoking.

Using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Dr Jessica Tyrrell and her team analysed possible links between a person’s socioeconomic status and the prevalence of chemicals in their body.

They expected to find that people of lower socioeconomic status would have more toxins in their bodies. 

However, this was not the case. Dr Tyrrell said: ‘We’ve found that as people become better off, changes in their lifestyle alter the types of chemicals in their bodies, rather than reducing the overall amount.

‘This realisation has a profound impact on the way we treat chemical build-ups, suggesting we should move to dealing with groups based on lifestyle, rather than earnings.’

By comparing the results from six separate populations, the researchers have been able to show strong associations between 18 different chemicals and poverty ratings.

Individuals with higher incomes had larger amounts of several toxicants, including urinary mercury, arsenic, caesium and thallium, with diet likely to play a key role in their accumulation.

‘The age old adage of “you are what you eat” seems to be true when explaining some of the trends we’re seeing in the data. It’s certainly very likely that fish and shellfish consumption is partially responsible for build-ups in mercury, arsenic and thallium’, said Dr Tyrrell.

The use of sunscreen was also found to be an important factor in the accumulation of benzophenone-3, with people from higher socioeconomic groups more likely to use products containing the chemical.

Those with lower incomes were more likely to have build-ups of urinary lead, cadmium, antimony and bisphenol A.

Cigarette smoking and a poor diet were among the factors likely to lead to the build-up of both lead and cadmium in these groups.

‘Long term exposure to chemicals, even in very small quantities, can lead to a number of adverse health effects such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

‘This study has produced a robust analysis of how the accumulation of these chemicals relates to socioeconomic status, giving us an important understanding that will help to inform strategies aimed at improving health,’ Dr Tyrrell said.


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