Enhancing cytotoxic therapies for breast and prostate cancers with polyunsaturated fatty acids

Irshad A A Shaikh, Iain Brown, Klaus W J Wahle, Steven D Heys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The role of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids has been extensively studied in most of the human malignancies including breast, colon, prostate, pancreas, and stomach cancers. In particular, the role of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in carcinogenesis has been extensively investigated in epidemiological, laboratory cell culture studies and studies in vivo in animal. Findings from these studies suggest that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are cytotoxic in different cancers and act synergistically with cytotoxic drugs. Although experimental evidence for the potential beneficial role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in enhancing the effectiveness of various chemotherapeutic agents in animal models and in cell culture studies is increasing, there are only a few reports that have shown supportive evidence for linking these natural compounds with augmentation of anticancer chemotherapeutics in human trials. This review presents evidence for a commonality in the proposed molecular mechanisms of action elicited by various PUFAs believed to be responsible for their enhancement of the effectiveness of anticancer chemotherapy, specifically in breast and prostate cancers, and reviews laboratory and animal studies and few reported human clinical trials. It concludes that sufficient evidence is available to suggest that major clinical trials with these natural compounds as adjuncts to standard therapies should be undertaken as a priority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-296
Number of pages13
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number3
Early online date31 Mar 2010
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


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