Study Reviews

Relationship between enzymes involved in the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids and survival in colorectal cancer

  • 08/09/2017

According to a study recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, the expression of a high ‘omega-3 metabolism-linked enzymes/omega-6 metabolism-linked enzymes’ ratio is associated with a higher survival rate in colorectal cancer (one of the main causes of cancer-related death).

Researchers at Aberdeen University used immunohistochemical techniques to characterise the following enzymes: CYP4A11, CYP4F11, CYP4V2 and CYP4Z1, related to omega fatty acid (FA) metabolism, in colorectal tumour tissue, metastasis in lymph nodes and normal colon mucosa. The statistical analysis showed that CYP4A11 (which converts omega-6 FA into molecules that promote tumour growth and cancer progression) and CYP4F11 (which metabolises omega-3 FA into compounds that inhibit tumour development) were significant prognostic factors for survival and capacity for repair from tumours (independently): patients with higher relative amounts of CYP4A11 had lower chances of survival.

This finding makes these enzymes a therapeutic target in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Although the study did not assess omega-3 and omega-6 FA consumption (and, therefore makes no conclusions with regard to how this relates to survival rate), it did obtain results that match those from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study in which a high dietary omega-6/omega-3 ratio was associated with an increase in the risk of colorectal cancer.

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