(NaturalNews) A new study just published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry appears to be the first to provide what the researchers call "unequivocal evidence that omega-3s reduce cancer risk."
So, how much of a risk are they talking about? A huge one. The scientists from the University of Guelph found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats found in cold water fish such as salmon and certain plant foods, including walnuts) can inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors by 30 percent, especially if started early in life.
"It's a significant finding," David Ma, a professor in Guelph's Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and one of the study's authors, said in a media statement. "We show that lifelong exposure to omega-3s has a beneficial role in disease prevention - in this case, breast cancer prevention. What's important is that we have proven that omega-3s are the driving force and not something else."
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. While natural health advocates and many cancer researchers have long thought that diet could help prevent malignancies, studies to document these claims have sometimes been inconsistent or even lacking.
"There are inherent challenges in conducting and measuring diet in such studies, and it has hindered our ability to firmly establish linkages between dietary nutrients and cancer risk," Ma explained. "So we've used modern genetic tools to address a classic nutritional question."
Here's what Ma and his research team did. They created a novel transgenic mouse that both produces omega-3 fatty acids and develops aggressive mammary tumors. Then, the researchers compared those animals to mice genetically engineered only to develop the same tumors. The results? The mice with the omega-3 exposure not only had 30 percent fewer tumors, but the breast tumors they did develop were a third of the size smaller than those in the control animals.
"This model provides a purely genetic approach to investigate the effects of lifelong omega-3s exposure on breast cancer development. To our knowledge, no such approach has been used previously to investigate the role of omega-3s and breast cancer," Ma stated. "The fact that a food nutrient can have a significant effect on tumor development and growth is remarkable and has considerable implications in breast cancer prevention."
Ma, who is an expert in how fats influence health and disease, added in the media statement that he hopes the study leads to more research on using diet to reduce cancer risk and on the benefits of healthy living. "Prevention is an area of growing importance. We are working to build a better planet, and that includes better lifestyle and diet," he said. "The long-term consequences of reducing disease incidence can have a tremendous effect on the health-care system."
As Natural News recently reported, there's other good news about preventing breast cancer with diet and specific nutrients from Harvard researchers, too. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that carotenoids (phytonutrients found in yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetables) significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.