Non-melanoma skin cancers have been linked to solar ultraviolet radiation exposure (UVR), which can lead to a decreased immune response in the skin cells called photoimmunosuppression. A healthy immune response is necessary for cancer prevention by causing destruction of the tumor cells and regulating the spread of cancer. This healthy immune response is called cell-mediated immunity (CMI).
Could Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Prevent Skin Cancer?
Studies suggest a role of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the risk of skin cancer by maintaining a healthy CMI and therefore inhibiting the growth and spread of cancerous cells. A randomized controlled study by Pilkington et al. looked to see if omega-3 supplementation reduced photoimmunosuppression of skin cells. The study involved 79 participants, half of whom were supplemented with 5 grams of an omega-3 supplement (70% EPA, 10% DHA), and half of whom took a placebo, for a 3 month period. After the supplementation period, each participant was exposed to a compound that caused a hypersensitivity reaction in their skin cells, followed by solar-simulated radiation, to compare the level of CMI between groups.
What did the study find?
Compared to the control group, those in the omega-3 supplemented group experienced 50% less photoimmunosuppression when exposed to low doses of UVR (equivalent to approximately 8 and 15 minutes of mid-day summer sun exposure in Manchester, UK), indicating a protective effect from omega-3 supplementation. There was less of a protective effect from omega-3s seen at the highest dose of UVR (equivalent to approximately 30 minutes of mid-day summer sun exposure).
In conclusion, this study provides supportive evidence for how omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against skin cancer and demonstrated that daily supplementation with 5 grams EPA-rich omega-3 fish oils decreased photoimmunosuppression in skin cells when exposed to UVR.
Are you getting enough omega-3s?
To know if you are getting enough omega-3s, make sure you know your Omega-3 Index, and test your level of vitamin D! Testing these levels and taking daily steps to keep your Omega-3 Index at a target of at least 8%, and your vitamin D at a target level of 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L), is important for all stages of health. Find out your levels today! Log on to the shop (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.
Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!
How can I track my omega-3 and vitamin D levels?
To help you track your nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created an online tracking system called myData-myAnswers. You can also track your dietary intake and supplement use to see how intake from food and supplements impact your levels and your health. Check it out today!