In a landmark study published recently in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada have proven that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats found in cold water fish, such as salmon, and in certain plant foods, such as walnuts) can inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors by 30 percent, especially if started early in life.

While advocates of omega-3s have long believed that diet may significantly help in preventing cancer, epidemiological and experimental studies to back up such claims have been lacking, and human studies have been inconsistent – until now.


“It’s a significant finding,” said David Ma, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and one of the study’s authors. “We show that lifelong exposure to omega-3s has a beneficial role in disease prevention – in this case, breast cancer prevention. What’s important is that we have proven that omega-3s are the driving force and not something else.”

Known as an expert on how fats influence health and disease, Ma believes the study will lead to more research on the benefits of healthy living, and on using diet to reduce cancer risk. “There are inherent challenges in conducting and measuring diet in such studies, and it has hindered our ability to firmly establish linkages between dietary nutrients and cancer risk,” Ma said. “So we’ve used modern genetic tools to address a classic nutritional question.”

The modern genetic tools used by Ma and his research team enabled them to genetically engineer mice that uniquely produce omega-3 fatty acids and develop aggressive mammary tumors. Then, Ma’s team compared those mice to other mice that were genetically engineered only to develop aggressive mammary tumors.

The results provided solid evidence that the mice producing omega-3s developed only two-thirds as many tumors – and any tumors they did develop were 30 percent smaller than those in the control mice.

“This model provides a purely genetic approach to investigate the effects of lifelong omega-3s exposure on breast cancer development. To our knowledge, no such approach has been used previously to investigate the role of omega-3s and breast cancer,” said Ma. “The fact that a food nutrient can have a significant effect on tumor development and growth is remarkable, and has considerable implications in breast cancer prevention.”



  1. Joy Woods says:

    Is olive butter enriched with omega-3 serves a good supplement and source of omega-3?

    • Dr. Don Colbert says:

      Olive Oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important in preventing cardiovascular disease and are particularly high in oily fish such as salmon and flax seed oil.

  2. Janis Davis says:

    This would tell me that if I had not been taking omega-3 and 6 plus using olive oil and eating salmon and walnuts (all nuts), my possibility of a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma (having biopsy tomorrow) would be greater and the size much larger. Of course, I didn’t consume these at a much younger age but at least for the past 15+ years—now 68 yrs old.
    Would love a response! Janis

  3. Ruth Hollon says:

    According to your book “What would Jesus eat?” can we have whole wheat Zesta crackers?

  4. Helene says:

    I’m interested in the amount needed for prevention of cardiovascular and mammary health. Is more recommended once you’ve been diagnosed?

  5. Sandy says:

    What specific Omega-3s were in the study, and what was the daily dose? Thanks!

  6. gail gardner says:

    Whata do you suggest for someone who has Gastroparesis and Barrett’s Esophagus. I have troulbe eating alot of things . please help

  7. modupe says:

    Hi, want to know if EVENNING PRIMEROSE has omega 3s and 6s. If it could cause any hazard to the body including cancer

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