Omega-6 fatty acids increase speed of prostate tumor growth

February 16, 2006

Omega-6 fatty acids, such as those found in corn oil, appear to cause human prostate tumors in cell culture to grow twice as quickly as those to which omega-6 fats have not been added, according to a study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and published in Cancer Research (2006; 66:1427-33).

Omega-6 fatty acids, such as those found in corn oil, appear to cause human prostate tumors in cell culture to grow twice as quickly as those to which omega-6 fats have not been added, according to a study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and published in Cancer Research (2006; 66:1427-33).

“Investigating the reasons for this rapid growth, we discovered that the omega-6 was turning on a dozen inflammatory genes that are known to be important in cancer,” said principal investigator Millie Hughes-Fulford, PhD. “We then asked what was turning on those genes and found that omega-6 fatty acids actually turn on a signal pathway called P13-kinase that is known to be a key player in cancer.”

Dr. Hughes-Fulford said the results are significant because of the high level of omega-6 fatty acids in the modern American diet, mostly in the form of vegetable seed oils-over 25 times the level of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in canola oil, fish, and green vegetables.