Research Spotlight

Dr. Catherine Field, professor of nutrition at the University of Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, has been looking at an oily solution to tumour growth: long-chain DHA, an essential fatty acid found in cold-water fish, such as Arctic char, herring and salmon

Her team has been studying how DHA affects tumours at the cellular level.

In the lab, DHA has been shown to slow the growth of tumours from a human breast cancer cell line, while it has no effect on a healthy human cell line. “There are many possible mechanisms,” Field says. First, DHA may discourage inflammation at the cellular level, preventing tumour growth. Second, the fatty acids may penetrate the cancer cells’ walls, encouraging cancer cell death, unbridled growth being key to tumour development.

“We are looking at treatment with DHA supplements as an adjunct to chemotherapy,” Field says. “Our research is aimed at synergy, improving the efficiency of cancer treatment.”

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