Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce high insulin levels and lower the risk of breast cancer in the process

Researchers found a link between consumption of omega-3s and reduced breast cancer risk by lowering insulin levels. The study, which was published in Nutrition Research, tested the ability of omega-3 free fatty acids (FFAs) to reduce insulin-induced breast cancer cell proliferation.

  • High insulin levels in obese people are considered a risk factor in breast carcinogenesis.
  • Consumption of omega-3-rich foods and supplements like fish oils is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. However, whether omega-3 FFAs regulate insulin signaling pathway to prevent breast cancer has never been extensively explored.
  • The researchers tested their hypothesis and found that omega-3 FFAs were able to reduce MCF-7 cell proliferation and modulate Akt and Erk1/2 phosphorylation levels stimulated by insulin.
  • In addition, they found that knockdown Shp2 by siRNA resulted in significantly elevated omega-3 FFAs-activated Akt phosphorylation but failed to change insulin-stimulated Akt and Erk1/2 phosphorylation.
  • Viable cell number was not affected by either downregulation of Shp2 expression or Erk1/2 inhibitor U0126 treatment.

The findings suggest that omega-3 FFAs reduce insulin-stimulated breast cancer cell proliferation and insulin-activated Akt phosphorylation.

For more studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on health, visit

Journal Reference:

Guo Y, Zhu S-L, Wu Y-K, He Z, Chen Y-Q. Omega-3 free fatty acids attenuate insulin-promoted breast cancer cell proliferation. Nutrition Research. 2017;42:43–50. DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2017.04.008

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