Omega-3 improves quality of life of breast cancer survivors

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that offer various health benefits for your body and brain. According to a study, omega-3 fatty acids can lower the mortality rate of breast cancer patients.

The study was published in the journal Cancer, and it was conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).

Earlier research already confirmed the many health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. This study demonstrated that increased intake significantly improved the survival rates of women after breast cancer diagnosis.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are crucial to your overall health. These fatty acids are used in various systems and several functions of the body.

But because the body is unable to produce omega-3 fatty acids, they must be acquired through a healthy diet and supplements.

Fish and plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Bass
  • Beef (from grass-fed cows)
  • Chia seeds
  • Cod
  • Flax seed (linseed)
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Soybean
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Walnuts

Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to improved survival rates

In the study, researchers found that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to lower mortality rates among breast cancer patients.

Participants of the one-way study increased their omega-3 levels by consuming oily fish like tuna and other foods rich in the fatty acid. The volunteers were also given omega-3 supplements.

For the study, Dr. Nikhil K. Khankari from UNC and her fellow researchers analyzed data from 1,463 breast cancer patients who took part in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project (LIBCSP).

The LIBCSP monitored the fish consumption of the participants as well as their intake of omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (arachidonic acid and linoleic acid).

Their findings revealed that in the span of 14.7 years, 485 volunteers had died and 210 of them died due to breast cancer. However, the participants who consumed the most omega-3-rich foods (such as fish) were 25 to 29 percent more likely to survive.

Analysis of the omega-3 fatty acids showed that both EPA and DHA significantly affected the survival rates of the female participants. (Related: Omega-3 fatty acids found to suppress the growth and spread of breast cancer.)

A follow-up study revealed that reductions in mortality rates ranged from 16 to a whopping 34 percent, 15 years after the participants started consuming higher levels of DHA and EPA in both fish and supplement form. The researchers concluded that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were the most effective in improving survival rates after a breast cancer diagnosis.

The many health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

Aside from improving breast cancer survival rates, omega-3 fatty acids have other health benefits.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids have cancer-fighting properties.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent asthma in both children and young adults.
  • These fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can lower blood pressure. They also promote healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help regulate heart rhythms and prevent heart disease.
  • Studies suggest that these fatty acids can improve mood and attention disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help minimize inflammation and the symptoms of various autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis. They can also reduce menstrual pain.

Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon or trout and take a fish oil supplement daily to boost your overall health and lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

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