When the Senate Diet Goals were released by a blue-ribbon panel of nutrition experts in 1977, they included the recommendation to decrease fat intake from 40% of calories to 30%. Yet, experts then looked at the Greenland Eskimos, who get 60% of their calories from fat and practically no dietary fiber, yet mysteriously had little cancer or heart disease. Three factors saved these people from an otherwise disastrous diet:
1) genetic adaption, at least 40,000 years to adjust to this uniquely skewed diet
2) fish oil, which contains a very special and highly unsaturated fat, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
3) no sugar in the diet, which helps the body make PGE-1, a healthy prostaglandin
EPA is, essentially, Nature’s anti-freeze. In the Arctic regions of the world, the ocean temperature drops to below freezing, yet water-based life will explode at that temperature, like leaving out a water balloon on a sub-freezing night. So Nature provides the algae in the ocean with this special fat, EPA, which prevents freezing and bursting at low temperatures. Smaller fish eat the algae, and bigger fish eat the smaller fish, until we have major concentrations of EPA in cold water fish, like cod, salmon, mackerel, tuna, krill and sardines. Krill is a small shrimp like creature that lives in the Antarctic Ocean and feeds on phytoplankton (small plants).
During feeding season, one whale can eat up to 8000 pounds of krill daily. Krill oil has shown impressive benefits in human ailments, including cancer.
Is Fish Oil an Essential Nutrient?
Convincing evidence that fish oil and fish can reduce:
- heart disease
- sudden heart attack
- infant development abnormalities
- autoimmune disorders (i.e. lupus and multiple sclerosis)
- Crohn’s disease
- cancer of breast, prostate, colon
- rheumatoid arthritis
EPA May Help the Cancer Patient:
- Changes membrane fluidity. Cell membranes contain fats that are a direct reflection of our diet, including the unnatural hydrogenated fats found in Crisco and Pop Tarts. When we are talking about dietary fats, the old saying is literally true, “you are what you eat.” Cell membranes that are fluid and flexible and allow the proper nutrients to pass into the cell will improve overall wellness, thus discouraging abnormal cell growths, like cancer. Cells that are flexible with EPA can squeeze down narrow capillaries to feed the distant tissue. Cells that are rigid with too much saturated or hydrogenated fat or having been “tanned” from too much sugar in the blood will not be able to move down narrow capillaries, like a car trying to get down a hotel hallway.
- Increase prostaglandin E-1, (PGE-1), which favors reducing the stickiness of cells for less risk of metastasis. PGE-1 also bolsters immune functions, dilates blood vessels, elevates production of estrogen receptors, and provides other benefits for the cancer patient.
- Slows tumor growth in animals. Slows tumor growth by altering protein synthesis and breakdown.
- Augments medical therapies. EPA improves tumor kill in hyperthermia and chemotherapy by altering cancer cell membranes for increased vulnerability. Increases the ability of adriamycin to kill cultured leukemia cells. Tumors in EPA-fed animals are more responsive to Mitomycin C and doxorubicin (chemotherapy drugs). EPA and GLA were selectively toxic to human tumor cell lines while also enhancing the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy.
- Reduces initiation, promotion, and progression of hormonally driven cancers, such as breast, prostate, and ovarian. An EPA-rich diet significantly lowered the levels of estradiol, a marker for breast cancer, in the 25 women studied who were at risk for breast cancer. Modulates estrogen metabolism for reduced risk and spreading of breast cancer.
Fish oil may be as effective as any cancer treatment available. In a study examining end-stage refractory cancer patients who have exhausted all chemo and radiation options, fish oil supplements provided a substantial improvement in length of life and immune functions compared to placebo.
Benefits of Fish Oil to Improve Outcome in Cancer Treatment
- anti-cachectic; prevents and reverses wasting syndrome
- induces apoptosis (suicide) in cancer cells
- upregulates immune function
- reduces stickiness of cells to slow metastasis
- improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood glucose, impairs tumor angiogenesis (making of blood vessels)
Flax oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a precursor to EPA. While flax oil is cheaper and more palatable than fish oil, it requires enzyme conversion steps in the body to turn flax oil (ALA) into fish oil (EPA). ALA converts to EPA at about 4% the efficiency of giving fish oil. ALA converts very poorly to EPA if the diet has any meaningful amount (3% kcal) of polyunsaturated fats (e.g. soy, corn, safflower). One study found that the more flax meal was fed to lab animals, the fewer and smaller were the metastatic tumors spreading from the implanted melanoma cancer.
(Excerpt from Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin)