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Oily fish 'good for bowel cancer'

21 July 2016 08:38

Bowel cancer patients should eat a lot of oily fish

Bowel cancer patients should eat a lot of oily fish

Oily fish could help bowel cancer sufferers enhance their chances of a longer life, according to a new study.

Such omega-3-enriched diets can improve patients' chances of not dying from the disease by 70%, Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital scientists suggest.

How the study worked

Researchers analysed records of 1,659 bowel cancer patients. Around a third of these died over the following decade, with about three in 10 of these deaths due to the cancer.

These people's omega-3 intakes, whether through supplements or natural sources, have been looked at.

What the study found

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids has previously been proven to be beneficial in cancer treatments. It was found that they can stop blood supply being given to cancerous cells as well as subdue cancer tumour growth .

The new study shows that upping food-based PUFAs to 0.3g can increase people's chances of not dying through bowel cancers by 41%.

Scientists found a comparable result for fish oil supplement-consumed omega-3.

Just a 0.15g-a-day increase can bring bowel cancer sufferers a 70% improved chance of not dying through the disease, the research finds. Reducing omega-3 intakes is linked to a 10% greater chance of dying from bowel cancer.

What the experts say

Bowel Cancer UK's Gail Curry says these "interesting" findings need more work to substantiate them.

Cancer Research UK's Martin Ledwick describes the study as "exciting", leading to possible comparatively simple dietary alterations to patients' lives.

The news came as Cancer Research UK announced that it had tripled funding into pancreatic cancer research over the past two years from £6 million to £18 million.

Holidays with bowel cancer

Bowel cancer need not spell an end to holidays abroad for patients. They can give themselves protection by taking out bowel cancer-related travel insurance.

This can cover the cost of providing 24/7 emergency medical assistance and replacement medication.

It also covers the usual travel insurance things, such as lost passports, cancelled or delayed plane departures and stolen luggage or possessions.