Unsaturated Fatty Acids and Cancer Prevention

Many researchers have studied the link between diet and cancer. Therefore, several studies indicate that there are some foods, which can actually cause cancers of the stomach, breast, mouth, and bowel by influencing their onset and progress. On the other hand, studies show that there are some categories of foods, which play a major role in cancer prevention. Here, it is generally acceptable that a healthy and well balanced diet consisting of fibre, fruits, fish oil (FO) and vegetables can go a long way in terms of reducing the cancer risk. Moreover, the risk of cancer can be reduced by eating diets low in salt, saturated fats, and red/processed meat (Roynette et al., 2004). The main objective of this essay is to highlight the importance of unsaturated fatty acids in cancer prevention.

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Despite that there are limited studies documenting the quantitative link between dietary fats and cancer, some researchers have shown that both the amount and type of fats can be directly associated with the etiology of colon cancer. According to Roynette et al. (2004), unsaturated fatty acids derived from fish oil play a major role in preventing the development of colon cancer. More specifically, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can prevent the development and progress of cancer by acting at different stages of colon cancer development and through different mechanisms. For instance, Roynette et al. (2004) indicate that n-3 PUFAs act by modulating the synthesis of prostaglandins derived from arachidonic acid besides regulating the expression and activity of the Ras protein and protein kinase C.

Consequently, n-3 PUFAs can limit the growth of tumor cells while increasing the apoptotic activities along the crypt axis, which leads to the death of many cancer cells. Additionally, n-3 PUFAs can promote cell differentiation along the colon walls while limiting angiogenesis. Most importantly, n-3 PUFAs can exert their modulatory and anti-inflammatory effects on the immune system; these actions play an imperative role in colon cancer prevention (Roynette et al., 2004). Ultimately, it is evident from the foregoing discussions that n-3 PUFAs can be used in cancer prevention despite various limitations associated with their inability to prevent the formation of secondary tumors. Therefore, it is advisable to take the right amount and type of dietary fats in order to reduce the risk of cancer.

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