Omega-3 oils help protect against skin cancer

By Siski Green, Friday 1 March 2013

Just when you thought you’d heard enough about omega-3 it’s back in the health news again, this time in relation to cancer.
Fish oil capsulesThe research found that omega-3 is a useful addition to other methods of preventing skin cancer

Researchers from the University of Manchester, UK, have found that it has protective effects for the skin, potentially helping to prevent infection and cancer.

The research was funded by the Association for International Cancer Research and involved a clinical trial whereby 79 volunteer patients were either given a daily 4g dose of omega-3 (the equivalent to one and a half portions of oily fish) or a placebo.

All patients were then exposed to a light machine which gave them the equivalent of 8, 15 or 30 minutes sun exposure, with the intensity of midday sun. Sunlight at that intensity causes immunosuppression, which in turn affects the body’s ability to prevent cancer or infections.

But, for the patients who took the omega-3, immunosuppression was 50% lower. This was only true for groups who were exposed to 8 or 15 minutes of sun-equivalent – the groups of omega-3 takers and placebo-takers who had 30 minutes of sunlight did not show a significant difference.

This, say the study authors, shows that omega-3 is a useful addition to other methods of preventing skin cancer such as using sunscreen and other physical protective behaviours such as wearing long-sleeved tops and trousers, sticking to the shade, wearing a hat and so on.

Immunosuppression via sunlight is caused by both UVA and UVB rays, so wearing a sunscreen can dramatically reduce your risk. But, to protect against both, the sunscreen must be of a SPF factor of 15 or above, and should state it is broad- or multi-spectrum, indicating it covers both UVA and UVB rays.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


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