may help fight bowel cancer
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In people whose
genetic make-up predisposes them to bowel cancer, a purified form of an omega 3
cuts the number and size of precancerous bowel growths (polyps), says a new
The study has been published in the journal
Furthermore, this particular omega 3 (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) seems to be
as effective as the prescription medicine used to treat familial bowel polyps,
but without the associated cardiovascular side effects.
Dietary omega 3 PUFA mainly comes from oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and
The researchers based their findings on 55 patients, all of whom had the
inherited genetic mutation that prompts the development of precancerous polyps
in the bowel - known as familial adenomatous polyposis, or FAP for short.
People with FAP are at significantly increased risk of developing bowel cancer
and require surgery to remove large sections of their bowel. Subsequently, some
also need regular monitoring.
All 55 patients had previously undergone surgery and were being monitored by
endoscopy - a procedure involving a camera on the end of a flexible tube passed
through the rectum.
Twenty-eight of the patients were randomly assigned to six months of treatment
with 2 g daily of a new highly purified form of the omega 3 polyunsaturated
fatty acid (PUFA) EPA. The other 27 were given the same amount of a dummy
The EPA capsules were enteric coated to prevent the indigestion that can
sometimes be associated with omega 3 supplements.
An assessment of the number and size of polyps at the beginning and end of the
six month study period revealed significant differences between the two groups
The number of polyps increased by almost 10 per cent among those treated with
the placebo, but fell by more than 12 per cent among those treated with the EPA
capsules, representing a difference of almost 22.5 per cent.
This was still clinically significant, even after taking account of influential
factors, such as age and sex.
Similarly, polyp size increased by more than 17 per cent among those in the
placebo group but fell by more than 12.5 per cent in those taking the EPA
capsules, representing a difference of just under 30 per cent.
ANI/ Times of India