An Omega-3 That’s Poison for Cancer Tumors

Omega-3 That Poison for Tumors

3D tumors that disintegrate within a few days thanks to the action of a well-known Omega-3 (DHA, found mainly in fish) — this is the exceptional discovery by University of Louvain. Hungry for fatty acids, tumor cells in acidosis gorge themselves on DHA but are unable to store it correctly and literally poison themselves. The result? They die. Credit: Copyright UCLouvain

So-called “good fatty acids” are essential for human health and much sought after by those who try to eat healthily. Among the Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is crucial to brain function, vision, and the regulation of inflammatory phenomena.

In addition to these virtues, DHA is also associated with a reduction in the incidence of cancer. How it works is the subject of a major discovery by a multidisciplinary team of University of Louvain (UCLouvain) researchers, who have just elucidated the biochemical mechanism that allows DHA and other related fatty acids to slow the development of tumors. This is a major advance that has recently been published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism.

Key to the discovery: interdisciplinarity

In 2016, Olivier Feron’s UCLouvain team, which specializes in oncology, discovered that cells in an acidic microenvironment (acidosis) within tumors replace glucose with lipids as an energy source in order to multiply. In collaboration with UCLouvain’s Cyril Corbet, Prof. Feron demonstrated in 2020 that these same cells are the most aggressive and acquire the ability to leave the original tumor to generate metastases. Meanwhile, Yvan Larondelle, a professor in the UCLouvain Faculty of Bioengineering, whose team is developing improved dietary lipid sources, proposed to Prof. Feron that they combine their skills in a research project, led by PhD candidate Emeline Dierge, to evaluate the behavior of tumor cells in the presence of different fatty acids.

3D tumors that disintegrate within a few days thanks to the action of a well-known Omega-3 (DHA, found mainly in fish) — this is the exceptional discovery by University of Louvain. Hungry for fatty acids, tumor cells in acidosis gorge themselves on DHA but are unable to store it correctly and literally poison themselves. The result? They die. Credit: Copyright UCLouvain

Thanks to the support of the Fondation Louvain, the Belgian Cancer Foundation, and the Télévie telethon, the team quickly identified that these acidotic tumor cells responded in diametrically opposite ways depending on the fatty acid they were absorbing. Within a few weeks, the results were both impressive and surprising. “We soon found that certain fatty acids stimulated the tumor cells while others killed them,” the researchers explained. DHA literally poisons them.

A fatal overload

The poison acts on tumor cells via a phenomenon called ferroptosis, a type of cell death linked to the peroxidation of certain fatty acids. The greater the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the cell, the greater the risk of their oxidation. Normally, in the acidic compartment within tumors, cells store these fatty acids in lipid droplets, a kind of bundle in which fatty acids are protected from oxidation. But in the presence of a large amount of DHA, the tumor cell is overwhelmed and cannot store the DHA, which oxidizes and leads to cell death. By using a lipid metabolism inhibitor that prevents the formation of lipid droplets, researchers were able to observe that this phenomenon is further amplified, which confirms the identified mechanism and opens the door to combined treatment possibilities.

For their study, UCLouvain researchers used a 3D tumor cell culture system, called spheroids. In the presence of DHA, spheroids first grow and then implode. The team also administered a DHA-enriched diet to mice with tumors. The result: tumor development was significantly slowed compared to that in mice on a conventional diet.

This UCLouvain study shows the value of DHA in fighting cancer. “For an adult,” the UCLouvain researchers stated, “it’s recommended to consume at least 250 mg of DHA per day. But studies show that our diet provides on average only 50 to 100 mg per day. This is well below the minimum recommended intake.”

Reference: “Peroxidation of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the acidic tumor environment leads to ferroptosis-mediated anticancer effects” by Emeline Dierge, Elena Debock, Céline Guilbaud, Cyril Corbet, Eric Mignolet, Louise Mignard, Estelle Bastien, Chantal Dessy, Yvan Larondelle and Olivier Feron, 11 June 2021, Cell Metabolism.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2021.05.016

34 Comments on "An Omega-3 That’s Poison for Cancer Tumors"

  1. So… All those hippy-dippy naturopaths were correct… 40 years ago. Just didn’t have the lab furniture, the white coat and the credentials. Well… now we know HOW it works. 👍

    QUOTH STUART: Look what I can do!
    It’s a MAD, MAD WORLD.

  2. Best source of omega 3 are direct from the source, algae! Not synthesised through a fish.

  3. Wasn’t there a recent study published by a European Health agency that showed people who took fish oil supplements were measurably more likely (20 to 30%) to develop arrhythmia?

  4. Wasn’t there a recent study published by a European Health agency that showed people who took fish oil supplements were measurably more likely (20 to 30%) to develop arrhythmia?

  5. Definitely propagandist against all the recent studies demonstrating that Omega 3s aren’t all that beneficial.

    • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is in Phase II studying the effect of PUFAs on triple negative breast cancer and recurrence.

  6. This isn’t news to the natural health community. It’s been a point of ridicule to dissuade cancer victims from seeking alternative therapy but this is standard care outside of mainstream medicine.
    Glad to see this report. Since the info us useful, that means it will be buried, ignored, and the researchers involved may even be discredited or threatened.

  7. Too much vit D will also kill you

  8. Is it same mechanism for Gliablastomas tumors??? Thanks for reply… Mike W.

  9. Any difference for Flax seed over Fish oil?

    • Yes. Flaxseed contains ALA which the body breaks down into DHA and EPA, both of which are abundant in fish oil. However, the process isn’t very efficient and bioavailability is poor. Algae based is the way to go for those wanting to avoid fish.

  10. So it frustrated me as to why when a patient starts chemo the oncologists highly advise you to get off any vitamins including fish oil….whyyyyy???!! If this is honestly true then why do oncologists ask you to get off them while having chemotherapy

    • My comment below is just my opinion. Who survives the chemo, the patient or the Cancer.

    • Because a great many oncologists don’t keep up with studies. For instance, it’s been proven that PUFAs enhance the effect of Doxorubicin aka the Red Devil but most oncologists aren’t aware of it anymore than they’re aware it’s been proven that PUFAs don’t cause blood thinning or have negative effect on clotting.

  11. Apparently most of the commenters believe you should only publish if the hypothesis is testing existing medical advice. So what if advice has been to stop taking supplement before starting cancer treatment? Or that other studies have shown supplements in healthy people can cause problems. Neither of those points disproves the result of this study nor does finding these results suggest the authors are providing advice of any sort let alone contradicting any particular oncologist. Generally this result is interesting when thinking about studies suggesting cannabinoids can have similar effects, given that cannabinoids are similar to, even biologically synthesized from, these fatty acids. That would back up the general mechanism and suggest that both diet and potentially exo-cannabinoids could be useful in preventing or treating cancer. Not that any of this constitutes advice that eating loads of fish or smoking loads of weed is a cure, or even advisable.

  12. I started taking higher dose Omega3s (1500mg) daily and noticed that my morning asthma cough is completely gone. It definitely works on inflammation.

  13. Another great source of the omega-3’s we need is grass-fed beef and grass-fed butter. This has the wonderful K2 in it as well. America needs to ditch its corn addiction.

  14. I have seen people recover from brain damage from car wrecks and drug overdoses by taking fish oil. I have also seen people recover from epilepsy.
    So i have seen it work on not just cancer. Its good to see articles like this one confirming that fish oil is good for you. Thank you!

  15. @Maree, because Chemo is to kill all cells not just Cancer cells, a race to see who will be stronger to survive the chemo, you or the Cancer.

  16. Undurti N Das, MD, DSc, FAMS, FRSC | June 13, 2021 at 10:57 pm | Reply

    This s study is in support of our previous studies where we showed that several long-chain fatty acids such as gamma-linolenic, arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids can kill tumor cells selectively with put harming normal cells. In mixed cell culture experiments where both nor al and tumor cells are grown together and then supplemented with gamma-linolenic acid, only tumor cells were killed but not normal cells. Subsequently we showed that these fatty acids enhance lipid peroxides formation and accumulation in tumor cells but not normal cells. Tumor cells are deficient in GLA, AA, EPA and DHA and so are extremely sensitive to the peroxidation of fatty acids. THs lipid peroxidation process can be enhanced by iron and copper salts. Anti-oxidants inhibit lipid peroxidation and so block tumoricidal action of fatty acids. Tumor cells are defective in upregulating their antioxidant enzymes (especially GPX4) and a=so can not eliminate lipid peroxides whereas normal cells can upregulate their antioxidant defences and so degrade lipid peroxides and so protect themselves form the toxic action of lipid peroxides and are able to remove lipid peroxides. Subsequently we showed that intratumoral injection of GLA can regress glioma in humans. We can also prepare fatty acids solution for intravenous injection and this when given along with conventional anti-cancer drugs and vitamin C can regress chemotherapy resistant cancers in humans.
    All unsaturated fatty acids seem to be effective in killing tumor cells, though each type of tumor cells seems to have more sensitivity to a particular type of fatty acid. Thus, glioma cells are more sensitive to GLA, lymphoma cells are more sensitive to GLA and AA, colon cancer cells are more sensitive to EPA and DHA…and so on.
    Das UN Cancer Letters 56: 235-243, 1991.
    Das UN, et al. Cancer Letters 94: 147-155, 1995.
    Das UN. Reversal of tumor cell drug resistance by essential fatty acids. Lipids 34: suppl S103, 1999.
    Das UN, et al. Uptake and distribution of cis-unsaturated fatty acids and their effect on free radical generation in normal and tumor cells in vitro. Free Rad Biol Med. 3: 9, 1987.
    Das UN, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids augment free radical generation in tumor-cells in vitro. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 145: 15, 1987.
    Das UN. Selective enhancement of free radicals in tumor cells as a strategy to kill tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo. In: Biological Oxidation Systems, (Eds) C.C. Reddy, et al, Academic Press, New York, pp 607-624, 1990.
    Sailaja P, Mani AM, Naveen KVG, Anasuya DH, Siresha B, Das UN. Effect of polyunsaturated fatty acids and their metabolites on bleomycin-induced cytotoxic action on human neuroblastoma cells in vitro. PLoS One 2014; 9: e114766.
    Sailaja P, Dwarakanath B, Das UN. Arachidonic acid activates extrinsic apoptotic pathway to enhance tumoricidal action of bleomycin against IMR-32 cells. Prostaglandins Leukot Essen Fatty Acids 2018; 132: 16-22.

    • Dear Dr. Das,
      Your comment was very educational on how the different cancers respond to different combinations of the Omega 3’s.
      I was diagnosed with stage 4 parotid gland squamous cell carcinoma in 2017. I had radical head & neck surgery in 2018. I refused chemo & radiation at that time but I am still alive!
      Ferroptosis is becoming quite the topic these days although you have been researching this method of cancer destruction for years.
      Would you be kind enough to tell me where I can find the article that discribes the different combos of Omega 3’s for the different cancer types?
      Are there any books that explain in detail how to create ferroptosis on an individual basis ie: supplements to take, what not to take etc., diet (in other words:self help with directions)?! If we comsume large amout of omega 6’s in our diet is it enough to add omega’3s for the proper ferroptosis response? Companies are now selling oils with GLA that claim they convert to DGLA. Are these products more effective on their own to create ferroptosis or do they work better when taken with omega 3’s?
      So many questions!!! Thank you so much for all your work and for taking my question.

  17. Is it possible to show this video without a person having to log in with all the associated bullsh*t of phone numbers and codes etc? Can anyone post the video somewhere else…? A video about cancer is age restricted; what a hogwash.

  18. Not To Mention The Price | June 14, 2021 at 4:52 am | Reply

    Not to mention the high price of omega oil supplements.

    $60 for a 2 week supply.

  19. I am happy to hear the news. With all the money an research I feel this should of came about sooner.

  20. John Benischek | June 19, 2021 at 6:05 pm | Reply

    Flax seed is loaded with Omega 3 for you vegetarians who don’t want to use fish oil.

    • No, it’s not. Flaxseed oil is loaded with ALA which the body can break down into DHA and EPA but it’s not an efficient process and bioavailability is poor. Algae bases Onega 3 is the way to go for vegetarians or just about anyone.

  21. NoNamesLeft4me | June 19, 2021 at 10:23 pm | Reply

    Now they have it more figured out, this is the key that opens the door, now they can syntheticly alter the the taste of it, So other cancers will eat it too, < see,,
    I know what choice I'd make, Radiation and Chemo, and suffering through it, Not the way I want to go,
    Very inspiring.

  22. Didn’t Dr Johanna Budwig already get awards for this discovery with her Budwig Protocol?

  23. i was diagnosed with a brain tumor on my brain stem in 1983. Ive been through three brain surgey, over five years of chemotherapy and have had multiple types radiation treatments. I’ve also been on my deathbed theee different times. i was diagnosed at eighteen months of age in 1983 and I’m turning 40 next summer. I suffer now from all of the treatments my body has been through. In 2011 I had another tumor removed from the base of my spine. i am on seven different medications including painkillers from the damage to my nerves on my spine. But amazingly, i look like a normal person and walk with only a slight limp with the assistance of a cane from the spinal nerve damage. If this article is actually real, I think it’s an incredible breakthrough for modern medical science! I consider myself extremely fortunate to have survived a Brainstem Glioma from the point I was originally diagnosed. Since at the time of the diagnosis, surgery was not an option because of the location of the tumor. I was told my chances of survival were 1 in 66,000. It is only by the well of God i am still alive over 37 years later with an eighteen year old child of my own. i find it ironic that the answer to the majority of my medical problems could have been solved, allegedly, with a tiny little oral supplement. But if this information is the real deal, I find it remarkable!!!

  24. Thanks for sharing this research. Given the outcome above, for a cancer patient, what do you think is a rough ballpark DHA daily dosage to use to have a chance of imitating this outcome in a human body? TQ

  25. Hola, gusto en saber de ti hoy, no te preocupes, pronto estarás completamente curado.

    debe realizar el pago a través de western uinon en un banco o tienda cerca de usted.

    nombre del destinatario: Abbasi

    Apellido: Adeyemi

    Ciudad: Nueva Orleans, Louisana

    País: Estados Unidos

    Importe: 355 Euros

    Número de teléfono: +1504723 0891

    Después de enviar snap y envíeme el recibo con el nombre del remitente y el número mtcn. Una vez que se confirme el pago, se le enviará su cura.

  26. What a fine discovery! The description of how a cancer cell collects fatty acids is brilliant and how it dies because of the structure of the fatty acid named DHA. Thank you for a brilliant article 👌

  27. For anyone looking to up their DHA intake the question of bioavailability is just as important as amount. Because I’m not a professional in the field I won’t make recommendations but please google Omega 3 bioavailability before purchasing anything. Different products have different mechanisms of delivery and some are much better than others.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.