Omega oils slash risk of breast cancer

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 18 July 2008



(2008), "Omega oils slash risk of breast cancer", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 38 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Omega oils slash risk of breast cancer

Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 38, Issue 4.

It is not how much fat you eat, but how much of the different types of fat that is important, say Swedish researchers who recently discovered that eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated may lead to a reduced risk of developing breast cancer in women over 50.

Led by Dr Marie Lof of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the scientists studied almost 45,000 women for 13 years, 974 of whom developed breast cancer. While the total amount of fat they ate, that is, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fat combined, had no significance, those aged 50 and over who had the highest intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3, -6 and -9 oils) were found 50 per cent less likely to develop the disease than the women who had the lowest intakes.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, concluded that the type of fat eaten during a woman's premenopausal years “may have later differential effects” on breast cancer risk.

So how can you get more omega fats in your diet? Omega-3 oils, which are classed as polyunsaturates, include the fatty acid EPA, which is mainly sourced from oily fish. Omega-6 oils, also polyunsaturates, include gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is found in a number of plants including evening primrose oil. Meanwhile omega-9 oils, classed as monounsaturates, include oleic acid, which is found in some nuts, avocados and olive oil.

This unique combination of natural fatty acids in an ideal 2.8:1 ratio (omega-3: omega-6) provides cell membranes with the nutrients required for efficient chemical signalling.

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