Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer for both men and women in the United States and the chance for survival for these cancers is extremely poor.
Malisetty’s research investigated the effects of fish oil, containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and curcumin on pancreatic cancer in mice. Curcumin, an extract of turmeric (Curcuma longa), is strongly anti-inflammatory. Many studies have shown anti-tumor effects of curcumin in various locations in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to be anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory, predominate in our typical Western diets. Studies show our diets contain an omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 15/1. A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 intake reduces the risk and growth of tumors. Omega-3 induces apoptosis, a natural, beneficial form of cell death for abnormal cells.
Mice were given hip injections of pancreatic cancer cells to create tumors to test the effects of the above two agents. After pancreatic tumors developed, the mice were fed diets which included curcumin in 18% corn oil or in 15% fish oil plus 3% corn oil.
The combination of curcumin and fish oil showed a 72% reduction in size of the pancreatic tumor masses and resulted in a reduction of inflammatory enzymes. This may be due to the reduced production of inflammatory eicosanoids. Both curcumin and fish oil increased apoptosis when given alone at micromolar levels. When given together, they resulted in apoptosis at lower doses.
CONCLUSION: Curcumin and fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) were shown to be of benefit in treating pancreatic cancer. They resulted in a reduction of the size of the tumors and in the levels of inflammatory enzymes. Mice fed fish oil had a 25% reduction of tumor growth, while curcumin resulted in a 43% reduction of tumor growth. The combination of the two resulted in a 72% reduction of tumor growth in comparison with mice on a control diet.
NOTE: Read about nutrition and cancer.
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