Like omega-6 cooking oils, omega-3 oils, such as fish oil, are highly unsaturated (polyunsaturated), and are prone to easy oxidation.
Despite this, they can produce significant anti-inflammatory effects.
Unoxidized omega-3 oil reduces inflammation by several mechanisms, such as reducing the production of the inflammatory chemical PGE2, and by producing the anti-inflammatory substances resolvin and protectin.
Of the omega-3 oils, the most protective against colon cancer is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which has been shown to regulate a number of mechanisms used by cancer, including those controlling:
• Immunity modulation
• Specific anticancer immunity
One of the powerful ways DHA oils control cancer is by regulating genes that reduce inflammation, inhibit cell proliferation, and induce apoptosis (a cellular process that kills cancer cells).
In essence, DHA switches beneficial cancer fighting genes on and turns the harmful (cancer growth-promoting) genes off.
Importantly, DHA only kills cancer cells. In fact, it improves and protects normal cells.
One study found that combining DHA oil with butyrate significantly enhanced the killing of colon cancer cells by apoptosis.
You can purchase purified N-butyrate without a prescription, and DHA can be purchased as a purified oil or one with a small amount of EPA oil, which also has anticancer effects.
Another beneficial combination is curcumin and DHA oil. One study found that when used on experimental animals that had diabetes and obesity — both of which promote colon cancer growth and spread — this combination could correct not only the diabetes and obesity, but also strongly inhibited the growth of the cancer.
Other studies have shown that combining DHA with curcumin inhibited all types of breast cancer.
Again, this occurred because of the effects on gene expression within the cancer cells.
Researchers also found that DHA increased the uptake of curcumin into the cancer cell, where it was most effective.
When cancers first begin to grow — when they are still microscopic — they produce chemicals that promote the growth of blood vessels critical for tumor survival and metastasis.
Blocking this process, called angiogenesis, can kill most tumors. DHA is a very powerful anti-angiogenesis compound.
While the short chain fatty acid butyrate is a powerful cancer growth inhibitor, its effectiveness depends on the fats that accompany it.
All of us produce at least some butyrate in our colons. Studies have found that combining omega-6 fats (such as cooking oils) with butyrate in the colon increases the production of a cellular chemical that actually protects cancers from injury and death called Bcl-2.
Another reason to avoid omega-6 oils.
But, of course, we don’t want to protect cancer cells — we want to kill them.
When butyrate is combined with DHA, the cancer cells begin producing another chemical, BAX, that kills cancer cells by apoptosis.
Studies have also shown that DHA powerfully inhibits formation of adenoma (colon polyps), which are the source of colon cancer.
This is especially important in people with hereditary polyposis and inflammatory bowel diseases, two disorders associated with a high risk of colon cancer.
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