Female mice that ingested fish oil supplements with breast cancer drug tamoxifen appeared to have slowed the proliferation of their tumors, compared to rodents given corn oil with the drug, according to researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
In the controlled study, the team of scientists found that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil helped to slow gene expression related to tumor growth.
"If a tumor was being treated with tamoxifen, the addition of an omega-3 fatty acid diet seemed to make the tumor, at least at the molecular level, more benign and less aggressive and responsive to tamoxifen," said lead researcher Jose Russo, M.D.
Additionally, the healthy fats appeared to curb immune responses that result in allergies and inflammation. These negative effects have been known to alter the body's natural defense against cancer.
Next, the researchers hope to investigate how omega-3 fatty acids in a diet can affect risk of breast cancer in women.
Authors of the study noted that an estimated 200,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year.