Omega-3 Kills Cancer Cells

Medical News today reported the results of a study showing DHA’s role in reducing tumor size:

Docosahexanoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oils, has been shown to reduce the size of tumours and enhance the positive effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, while limiting its harmful side effects.

Ever since a case report was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2005 in which an elderly man with a large and inoperable lung sarcoma went into complete remission with high dose fish oils, predominantly DHA, I’ve been emphasizing DHA (and vitamin D) in my nutritional recommendations for people facing cancer challenges.

In the case report, the intake of EPA+DHA was in the range of 15-18 grams per day, about the amount that the Innuit on their traditional diet of seal, fish, and whale blubber used to consume. That’s a lot of omega 3, and should be supervised by a nutritionally knowledgeable physician, but even 4-6 grams per day, especially with a high DHA product can be a big help.

Grape seed extract kills leukemia cells

A new study from the University of Kentucky (where I graduated from medical school in 1975!) was published Jan 1st 2009 in Clinical Cancer Research.

An extract from grape seeds forces laboratory leukemia cells to commit cell suicide, according to researchers from the University of Kentucky. They found that within 24 hours, 76 percent of leukemia cells had died after being exposed to the extract.

This one is particularly dear to my heart, as I have seen (and experienced) first hand the amazing results of supplementation with high quality grape seed (and pine bark) proanthocyanodins (OPCs). One of the frequent comments/questions I receive is “I heard that OPCs were bad to take if you have leukemia or a high white blood cell count”. My answer has always been that I know of no reason for this. Now we have strong evidence,  even including the molecular mechanism (see full article) for the first time, to the contrary

Prostate screening controversy

As NBC chief science correspondent commented:

What is needed are better methods of differentiating the cancer that is truly dangerous and needs to be treated, from the cancer that poses no risk. Such research is underway. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health has been running a study of 74,000 men since 1993, trying to determine whether screening saves lives. So far, it has not come to enough of a conclusion that the results have been released.

As with so many other aspects of this disease, men and their doctors must decide for themselves.

I would add to this that Dr. Dean Ornish’s group has shown that drinking 8 oz of pomegranate juice daily doubles the time required for the PSA to double in men with prostate cancer (reflecting slowed growth of the prostate cancer). More recently, laboratory studies have shown that rats fed the equivalent of 2 servings of walnuts per day show a decrease in tumor growth rate by a factor of 2.  So it can’t be a bad idea to eat walnuts and drink pomegranate juice frequently–while you decide whether or not you want a PSA screening test.