Dietary PUFA and cancer

10 Jul 2018

The aim of the present paper is to give a brief overview on the role of dietary fat in carcinogenesis and as possible anticancer agents. Dietary fat is an essential nutrient and important source for the essential fatty acids (FA), linoleic and ?-linolenic acids, which contribute to proper growth and development. However, dietary fat has been associated with the development of colorectal, breast, prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancers, with the type and quality of fat playing an underlying role. Tumour growth is the disruption of the homoeostatic balance regulating cell differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis and is associated with altered lipid metabolism. Animal cancer models and human cancer biopsy tissue demonstrate that a characteristic lipid profile is associated with the growth and development of neoplastic lesions. This entails alterations in membrane cholesterol, phospholipid and PUFA metabolism. Particularly, alterations in cell membrane FA metabolism involving the n-6 and n-3 PUFA, are associated with changes in membrane structure, function, cellular oxidative status, activity of enzymes and signalling pathways. These events are a driving force in sustaining the altered growth of cancerous lesions and provide unique targets for intervention/cancer modulation. Challenges in utilising FA in cancer modulation exist regarding intake and effect on cell structure and biochemical interactions within the cell in the prevention of cancer development. Therefore, utilising dietary PUFA in a specific n-6:n-3 ratio may be an important chemopreventive tool in altering the growth characteristics of cancer cells.