Omega-6 fatty acids promote prostate tumor cell growth

02 Aug 2005 --- A study has demonstrated that omega-6 fatty acids such as the fat found in corn oil promote the growth of prostate tumor cells in the laboratory.

02/08/05 A study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) has demonstrated that omega-6 fatty acids such as the fat found in corn oil promote the growth of prostate tumor cells in the laboratory. The study also identifies a potential new molecular target for anti-tumor drugs: an enzyme known as cPLA2, which plays a key role in the chain leading from omega-6 fatty acids to prostate tumor cell growth.

The study was led by Millie Hughes-Fulford, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Cell Growth at SFVAMC and scientific advisor to the U.S. Undersecretary of Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is being published in the September 2005 issue of Carcinogenesis, and is currently available online.

Working with human prostate cancer cells in tissue culture, Hughes-Fulford and her fellow researchers identified for the first time a direct chain of causation: When introduced into prostate tumor cells in culture, omega-6 fatty acid causes the production of cPLA2, which then causes the production of the enzyme COX2. In turn, COX2 stimulates the release of PGE2, a hormone-like molecule that promotes cell growth.

The study points out that 60 years ago in the United States, the dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, a beneficial fatty acid, was 1 to 2. Today, the ratio is 25 to 1. Over that same 60 years, the incidence of prostate cancer in the U.S. has increased steadily.

The research was funded by awards from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and in part by grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Funding was administered by the Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE).

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