Omega-6 fatty acids may boost tumour growth, say researchers

In collaboration with the Press Association

Omega-6 fatty acids, a common type of fat found in corn oil, may be linked to prostate cancer growth, claims a new report.

The research suggested that prostate cancer cells exposed to omega-6 fats appeared to grow up to twice as fast as unexposed cancer cells.

One particular omega-6 fatty acid, known as arachidonic acid, seemed to be responsible for encouraging this growth.

Lead researcher at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Centre, Millie Hughes-Fulford, was quick to add that omega-6 acids were not a cause of cancer, but probably encouraged existing cancers to grow faster.

"For a healthy lifestyle, it's not a secret, omega-3 fatty acids are good and omega-6 acids are not as good. You need some omega-6, it's just that it's much better if we moderate our intake of omega-6 acids," she told Health Central .

Eating fish and green vegetables as part of a balanced diet is the best way to ensure an adequate omega-3 intake, she added.

While the results of the test are disputed by some scientists, a rising incidence of prostate cancer in the US has coincided with increased consumption of corn oil, said Dr William Aronson, an associate clinical professor of urology at the University of California.

"The backbone of the American diet, corn oil, is a rich supply of linoleic acid - omega-6," said Dr Aronson.

"Linoleic acid is converted in the body to arachidonic acid. Our group has previously demonstrated that reducing dietary corn oil slowed the progression of human prostate cancers grown in mice."