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Decoded: How Omega-3 fatty acid helps inhibit cancer’s spread

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New York, July 16: While eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, certain nuts and seeds, have been known to prevent heart diseases and arthritis, a new research, led by one of Indian-origin, showed that omega-3 fatty byproducts may also have anti-cancer effects.

The new study, led by Aditi Das from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US, showed that when the human body metabolises omega-3 fatty acids, it produces a class of molecules called endocannabinoid epoxides, or EDP-EAs. These have anti-inflammatory properties and can inhibit cancer’s growth and spread.

The EDP-EAs have similar properties to cannabinoids found in marijuana — but without the psychotropic effects — and they target the same receptor in the body that cannabis does.

“We have a built-in endocannabinoid system which is anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing. Now we see it is also anti-cancer, stopping the cells from proliferating or migrating,” said study leader Aditi Das from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“These molecules could address multiple problems: cancer, inflammation and pain,” Das added.

For the study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the team studied the effect of the molecule in mice with tumours of osteosarcoma — a bone cancer that is not only painful but also difficult to treat.

The results showed that the endocannabinoids slowed the growth of tumours and blood vessels, inhibited the cancer cells from migrating and caused cancer cell death.

The higher concentrations of EDP-EAs did kill cancer cells, but not as effectively as other chemotherapeutic drugs on the market. But, the compounds slowed tumour growth by inhibiting new blood vessels from forming to supply the tumour with nutrients. They also prevented interactions between the cells, and most significantly, they appeared to stop cancerous cells from migrating.

While dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to EDP-EAs, for those with cancer, something concentrated and fast acting is needed, Das said.

“That’s where the endocannabinoid epoxide derivatives come into play – you could make a concentrated dose of the exact compound that’s most effective against the cancer. You could also mix this with other drugs such as chemotherapies,” she added.

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India witnesses significant rise in dementia-related cases: Lancet

The results showed that the number of deaths from dementia has increased by 148 per cent over the same 26-year period.

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Moscow, Dec 12 : With number of individuals living with dementia increasing globally owing to ageing population, a Lancet study on Wednesday revealed that India witnessed a significant growth in the number of Alzheimer’s disease and other cases of dementia from 1990 till 2016.

According to the report published in Lancet Neurology journal, India witnessed nearly 2.9 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other cases of dementia in the 26-year period and nearly 1.4 lakh deaths arising from the problem.

The results showed that the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementia increased from 20.2 million in 1990 to 43.8 million globally in 2016.

Of these, 27 million were women and 16.8 million were men.

To reach this conclusion, an international group of collaborating scientists, including HSE Professor Vasily Vlasov, analysed data from 195 countries on the spread of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia between 1990 and 2016.

The results showed that the number of deaths from dementia has increased by 148 per cent over the same 26-year period.

Dementia is now the fifth most common cause of death worldwide and the second most common — after coronary heart disease — among people aged 70 or older, said the report.

Vlasov noted that according to the data, more than 1 million Russians — most over 50 — were suffering from dementia in 2016.

Researchers have linked high BMI, smoking (including all smoked tobacco products), and diet high in sugar-sweetened beverages as risk factors for dementia.

Although differences in coding for causes of death and the heterogeneity in case-ascertainment methods constitute major challenges to the estimation of the burden of dementia, future analyses should improve on the methods for the correction of these biases, said the study.

“Until breakthroughs are made in prevention or curative treatment, dementia will constitute an increasing challenge to health-care systems worldwide,” it added.

There is growing evidence of risk factors for dementia, which shows that lifestyle and other interventions might, if implemented effectively, contribute to delaying the onset and reducing the future number of people who have dementia.

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Late childbirth linked to high breast cancer risk

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New York, Dec 11: Women who had their first child after 35 may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer than their peers who do not have children, according to a study contrary to conventional wisdom that childbirth is protective against breast cancer.

Besides late childbirth, women who had a family history of breast cancer or who had a greater number of births also had an increased risk for breast cancer after childbirth. The pattern looked the same whether or not women breastfed.

While the risk was higher for women who were older at first birth, there was no increased risk of breast cancer after a recent birth for women who had their first child before 25, said researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US.

“This is evidence of the fact that just as breast cancer risk factors for young women can differ from risk factors in older women, there are different types of breast cancer, and the risk factors for developing one type versus another can differ,” said Hazel B. Nichols, Professor at the UNC.

Although childbirth is still protective against breast cancer, researchers say it can take more than two decades for benefits to emerge.

Breast cancer is more common in older women, with the median age of 62 at diagnosis. But, the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, identified elevated breast cancer risk after childbirth in women younger than 55.

In women 55 years and younger, breast cancer risk peaked about five years after they gave birth, with risk for mothers 80 per cent higher compared with women who did not gave birth.

Twenty-three years after giving birth, women saw their risk level off, and pregnancy started to become protective.

For their analysis, the team pooled data from 15 prospective studies from around the globe that included 889,944 women. In addition to looking at breast cancer risk after childbirth, they also evaluated the impact of other factors such as breastfeeding and a family history of breast cancer.

The findings could be used to develop better breast cancer risk prediction models to help inform screening decisions and prevention strategies, Nichols said.

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Fish oil reduces bleeding risk in surgery patients: Study

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New York, Dec 5: Fish oil, containing the omega-3s, lowers the risk of bleeding during surgery, say, researchers, challenging current recommendations to stop fish oil.

Fish oil is among the most common natural supplement for treatment of hypertriglyceridemia or prevention of cardiovascular disease.

However, concerns about theoretical bleeding risk have led to recommendations that patients should stop taking fish oil before surgery or delay in elective procedures for patients taking fish oil by some healthcare professionals.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, found that higher blood omega-3 levels — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — were associated with lower risk of bleeding.

For the study, 1,516 patients scheduled for cardiac surgery were randomised to omega-3s or placebo.

The dose was 6.5-8 grams of EPA+DHA over two-five days before surgery, and then 1.7 grams per day beginning the morning of surgery and continuing until discharge.

The findings showed that there was a significant reduction in the number of units of blood needed for transfusions.

In another analysis, the higher the blood EPA+DHA level on the morning of surgery, the lower the risk for bleeding, according to the Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) criteria.

“The researchers in this study concluded that these findings support the need to reconsider current recommendations to stop fish oil or delay procedures for people on fish oil before cardiac surgery,” said Bill Harris, Founder of OmegaQuant.

While Omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA, are important for heart, brain, eye and joint health, most people do not get enough of these valuable fatty acids, which can increase their risk of the most serious health issues.

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