Omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal, obese women, according to new research published in Cancer Prevention Research.
Obesity is a major breast cancer risk factor in postmenopausal women, and scientists believe increased inflammation is an important underlying cause in this population. Omega-3s are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Previous studies have supported the idea that omega-3s protect against breast cancer, but the findings have been inconsistent, according to a post about the new research on medicalnewstoday.com. Andrea Manni, professor and division chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Penn State College of Medicine who led the study, suspected that data from normal-weight women obscured the results in previous research. Normal-weight women have less inflammation than heavier women and are therefore less likely to benefit from anti-inflammatory omega-3s, he said.
The findings of the two-year study support the idea that omega-3s, and specifically DHA, are “preferentially protective in obese postmenopausal women,” Manni said in a university release. The strategy is an example of a personalized approach to breast cancer prevention. Manni added that, with obesity-related cancers on the rise, the findings could have implications beyond breast cancer.