Omega 3 fatty acid is a substance added to health supplements because it is rich in various nutrients and is good for preventing adult diseases and good for children’s brain. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, which are also synonymous with blood circulation health, even play a role in killing tumors (cancer cells). Researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. What is the action of omega-3 fatty acids that they discovered?
DHA, which is good for the brain, and EPA,
omega 3, which helps heart disease, are representative polyunsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids in plants exist in a liquid state at room temperature. Therefore, it can be easily diluted with other ingredients, helping the breakdown of fat or reducing triglycerides. Saturated fatty acids exist as solids even at room temperature, like pork fat. If these ingredients float in the blood vessels, it is easy to understand why saturated fatty acids are not good for the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a major component of cell membranes that make up our tissues. It is one of the essential fatty acids that are essential for protecting cells or for smooth metabolism. However, the body cannot make it directly, so it must be ingested through food. Representative components of omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). It is found in many blue-green fish such as herring, mackerel, and saury.
DHA is a major component of the brain. 60% of the brain is fat, and 20% of that fat is DHA. DHA activates brain cell functions and increases memory and learning ability. In addition, it prevents Alzheimer’s enough to be called a ‘dementia prevention drug’. This is because it prevents beta-amyloid, a substance that causes Alzheimer’s, from accumulating in the brain. DHA is also effective in chronic inflammatory diseases that appear in blood vessels.
On the other hand, EPA works to lower blood cholesterol. Therefore, when properly consumed, it improves blood circulation in the brain, prevents blood clots from forming, and helps to prevent heart disease. As a result, it helps to supply nutrients to the brain by making the blood vessels healthy. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can slow the overall growth rate of the body, such as alum, skin scales, and hair growth.
A new study has been published that shows that omega-3 fatty acids, which are rich in these benefits, also play an important role in preventing cancer. Professor Olivier Peron’s team at Leuven Catholic University confirmed the mechanism that prevents the development of cancer cells in tumors and published it in the international scientific journal ‘Cell Metabolism’ on June 11th. Professor Peron is an oncology expert.
Killing cancer cells captured state
the researchers conducted an experiment to investigate the exact effects of omega-3 fatty acids inhibit tumor. This is an experiment to administer DHA through a three-dimensional (3D) tumor cell model ‘spheroids’. The ultimate goal of the experiment is to capture the death of tumor cells by administering DHA.
Professor Peron’s team’s research dates back to 2016. At that time, the research team discovered that, unlike normal cells, which use glucose as an energy source, tumors use lipids (fatty acids) as an energy source. The food we eat cannot be used directly for energy. When food comes in, it is broken down into smaller units of nutrients through digestion.
For example, proteins are broken down into amino acids, carbohydrates into glucose, and fats into fatty acids and absorbed into the blood. At this time, mitochondria use oxygen that comes in through respiration to convert glucose (nutrients) in the blood into energy (ATP, adenosine triphosphate) that cells can use. If food is crude oil, ATP is gasoline.
Last year, the researchers also discovered that different types of fatty acids can have significantly different effects on tumor cells. They found that certain fatty acids stimulate tumor growth, while some fatty acids, such as omega-3s, induce the death of tumor cells.
Afterwards, the researchers experimented with administering omega-3 fatty acids to tumors. As a result, DHA, one of the components of omega 3, started to break down the shape of the tumor from the 10th day, and after 13 days, the cancer cells were observed to collapse. In the photos and videos released by the research team, you can see how DHA kills cancer cells in tumors. This means that DHA was poisonous to the cancer cells of the tumor.
Peroptosis Inducing Cell Death
Researchers found that, in particular, omega-3 fatty acids induce the oxidation of tumor cells through a process called ‘ferroptosis’. Peroptosis is an ‘apoptotic action’ in which cells create free radicals using iron in an environment of lipid peroxidation (excessive distribution of unsaturated fatty acids in the cell membrane) and induce their own death. The more unsaturated fatty acids and iron in the cell, the more easily the lipid molecules that make up the cell membrane are oxidized, which increases the risk of cell damage or death.
In general, tumors store fatty acids, which are energy sources, in ‘Lipid droplets’ to prevent oxidation. However, when a large amount of DHA is increased, the fat cells can no longer contain fatty acids and oxidation occurs, and the cancer cells of the tumor are eliminated through peroptosis, the researchers explain. These research results are expected to greatly contribute to the development of intractable cancer treatments using peroptosis in the future.
Studies supporting this have also been conducted in Korea. In December of last year, the research team of Dr. Lee Sang-cheol and Lee Eun-woo of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology also confirmed that gastric cancer cells died when a drug that induces peroptosis was injected into gastric cancer cells with the characteristics of mesenchymal cells. A mesenchymal cell is a type of stem cell differentiated from the mesoderm formed by the division of a fertilized egg, and can be differentiated into various cells. The research results were published in the December 7th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), an international academic journal.
Based on their findings, Professor Peron’s team conducted an experiment in which mice with tumors were fed a diet rich in omega-3. As a result, it was confirmed that the tumor growth rate was much slower in the mice fed a large amount of DHA than in the mice fed the normal diet. Professor Peron said he plans to conduct a trial soon to see if the same results can be applied to humans.
The professor’s team will also reveal exactly how much omega-3 dosage is appropriate to show the tumor-suppressing effect. The daily intake of omega-3 (DHA and EPA) recommended by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is 500-2000 mg. Wouldn’t it be possible to consume much more DHA than we do now if the researchers’ dosage is revealed?3