Friday, August 9, 2013. An article that appeared online on July 26, 2013 in the journal Carcinogenesis reports an inhibitory effect for long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which naturally occur in fish and fish oil, against squamous cell carcinoma, a type of oral and skin cancer. Squamous cells occur in the outermost layers of the skin, as well as in the lining of the digestive tract and other areas. Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer as well as an oral cancer that is difficult to treat.
Professor E. Kenneth Parkinson and his associates at Queen Mary University of London tested the effect of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in cultures of oral and skin squamous cell carcinoma and in premalignant and normal epidermal cells. They found that EPA inhibited the growth of malignant and premalignant cells and increased programmed cell death (apoptosis) of these cells. "We found that the omega-3 fatty acid selectively inhibited the growth of the malignant and premalignant cells at doses which did not affect the normal cells," stated Dr Parkinson, who is the Head of the Oral Cancer Research Group at Queen Mary's Institute of Dentistry. "Surprisingly, we discovered this was partly due to an over-stimulation of a key growth factor (epidermal growth factor) which triggered cell death. This is a novel mechanism of action of these fatty acids."
Lead author Zacharoula Nikolakopoulou, PhD commented that "As the doses needed to kill the cancer cells do not affect normal cells, especially with one particular fatty acid we used called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), there is potential for using omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of skin and oral cancers."
"It may be that those at an increased risk of such cancers - or their recurrence - could benefit from increased omega-3 fatty acids," she noted. "Moreover, as the skin and oral cancers are often easily accessible, there is the potential to deliver targeted doses locally via aerosols or gels. However further research is needed to define the appropriate therapeutic doses."
In an article published online on August 14, 2012 in the journal Nanomedicine, researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland report a strong effect for green tea extract in combating skin cancer when delivered intravenously. While oral green tea intake has been associated with significant cancer-preventive benefits, its effectiveness as a treatment for pre-existing cancers has had less evidence in its favor.
Dr Christine Dufès and her associates tested an intravenous formulation of a green tea extract containing a significant concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in an animal model of two types of skin cancer. The extract was encapsulated in vesicles containing the plasma protein known as transferrin, which transports iron throughout the body and has numerous receptors in many cancers.
Forty percent of both varieties of skin tumors disappeared after intravenous treatment with EGCG. Thirty percent of the remaining tumors among one type of tumor and 20 percent of the other variety underwent shrinkage, and stabilization was noted in an additional 10 percent. The study is believed to be the first successful test of the delivery method of the extract in cancerous tumors.
"These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments," stated Dr Dufès, who is a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. "When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumors every day, in some cases removing them altogether. By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumors continued to grow. This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries."
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