The oils could halve the size that tumours grow, and also stop them metastasizing (spreading)—and as a result, the women live longer. The oils also seem to have a protective effect against breast cancer, researchers from the University of Nebraska have found.
They think the oils boost the immune system response to the cancer—which suggests they could be just as effective with other cancers as well—and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Specifically, the oils seem to encourage the growth of T-cells, the white blood cells that strengthen the immune system, and especially its cancer-fighting qualities.
In tests on laboratory mice, those fed an omega-3 diet had a higher T-cell count and less inflammation than other mice that were instead fed an omega-6 rich diet, the polyunsaturated fats that can cause inflammation in the body.
Tumours also took longer to develop in the omega-3 group—and sometimes the cancers never appeared at all, suggesting the oils have a protective effect—and, after 35 days, were only half the size of the tumours in the omega-6 group.