People who ate more of them survived longer with the big C.
In the study, researchers tested tumors in colorectal cancer patients for enzymes that metabolize both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and compared the proportion of both to the patients’ survival.
They discovered that patients with a higher ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s lived for longer.
The researchers believe that the molecules that are produced from the breakdown of omega-3s somehow prevent the spread of the tumor, according to a release.
On the flip side, more omega-6s could lead to a worse survival prognosis for the patient, they say.
This could help explain why patients respond to colon cancer treatment differently—the same treatment could be favorable in some, but have little effect in others.
Omega-3 and omega-6s are both kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids, meaning they have two or more double bonds in their chemical makeup.
Omega-3s—found in salmon, tuna, and walnuts—are thought to help reduce inflammation in your body, helping reduce your risk of conditions like heart disease or cancer.
On the flip side, some sources of omega-6s, like processed vegetable oils, are thought to fuel inflammation. (Try this recipe for fatty-fish hit.)
This isn’t the first study that supports a higher proportion of omega-3s versus omega-6s.
Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that omega-3s reduced prostate tumor growth in mice, while omega-6s had the opposite effect.
Colon cancer rates are rising in young people, as we recently reported.
So if you notice any red-flag symptoms, like such as blood in the stool or rectum, cramping, and changes in bowel patterns lasting for several days, see your doctor.