According to a recent study researchers say that they found that Omega-6 fatty acids promote the growth of prostate tumour cells in laboratory settings.
Scientists say that the sudden rise in the incidence of prostate cancer could be due to a rapid increase in the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the western diet in recent years. Omega-6 fats have also been linked to the development of breast cancer and some say that it is due to the fact that the fats enhanced expression of certain genes that accelerate the disease.
For the recent study researchers introduced arachidonic acid, an omega-6, into human prostate tumour cells in culture and they found that it caused the production of the enzyme cPLA2. This then caused the production of the enzyme COX2, which in turn stimulates the release of PGE2, a hormone-like molecule that promotes cell growth.
Around 60 years ago, the dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the US was one to two. Today, the ratio is 25 to one. Over that same 60 years, the incidence of prostate cancer in the US has increased steadily shows a recent survey.
Researchers also say that they found that flurbiprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly prescribed for arthritis, blocked the production of cPLA2 and broke the chain leading to cell growth, pointing to a new drug development target.
Studies have shown that COX2 has been implicated in the growth of many types of tumours, hence researchers feel that if they could find a way to block that cascade in the tumour, they would then have a new way of modifying or slowing tumor growth.
Researchers say they further plan to study the overall effect of different types of fatty acids on different tumour types in cell lines as well as human biopsies and also correlate type of fatty acid with tumour stage and grade in order to obtain a clearer picture of specific effects of different fats on tumour progression.