Omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (FAs) are essential fats that must be obtained from the diet. The typical western diet is heavily weighted towards n-6 FAs with little n-3 intake. Recently, numerous studies have suggested that arachidonic acid (AA), an n-6 FA, and its metabolites have a significant role in tumor promotion. Inversely, n-3 fatty acids have consistently been shown to slow the growth and increase the chemo-sensitivity of various malignancies in vitro and in vivo. Clinical studies utilizing n-3 as adjuvants to therapy have shown much promise. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and their application to cancer. In this chapter we will be focusing on 1) the metabolism of n-3 and n-6 FA, 2) the mechanisms of action and implications in cancer and 3) the application of n-3 as promising therapies for the treatment of cancer.
Keywords: Polyunsaturated fatty acids, nutrition and cancer, fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, eicosapetaenoic acid (EPA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), arachidonic acid (AA), COX, LOX, prostaglandines, tromboxanes.