Research Highlight

Fish oil for breast cancer

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2007.2 Published online 1 May 2007

The researchers testing fish oil on mice tumours


Fish oil could discourage and stop the growth of cancer cells in breast cancer patients, according to a new research1. The easily available, cost-effective oil, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, was found to reduce size and incidence of tumours in experimental mice. It also helped slow down progression of the tumours.

The researchers reported the anti-carcinogenic potential of fish oil after observing that it prominently reduced the abnormal multiplication of alveolar mammary cancer cells. Administration of fish oil further showed a prominent reduction of cancer cell proliferation and an increased expression of p53 protein, which acts as a tumour suppressor.

"Acute deficiency of micronutrients is rare in developed countries, but intake of less than the recommended dietary allowance is a widespread problem. The best way to administer these fatty acids is through dietary supplementation," says Malay Chatterjee, the lead researcher.

The team is conducting more in vivo and in vitro cell culture studies to define and ascertain the precise anti-carcinogenic mechanism of fish oil in mammary cancer. "If these studies are found to be really functional, we would have the beginning of a new chemoprevention programme with dietary fish oil supplements," he says.

The authors of this work are from: Division of Biochemistry, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, P.O. Box – 17028, Kolkata-700032, India; Cardiovascular and Cancer Research Institute, Texas A&M University System, Health Sciences Center, College of Medicine, Temple, TX-76504, USA


  1. Chatterjee, M. et al. Protective role of fish oil (Maxepa) on early events of rat mammary carcinogenesis by modulation of DNA-protein crosslinks, cell proliferation and p53 expression. Cancer Cell International doi: 10.1186/1475-2867-7-6 (2007).