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Omega-6 Fats Cause Prostate Tumors to Grow Twice as Fast

By Steve Tokar, Nor. Calif. Institute for Research & Education | February 1, 2006

Omega-6 fatty acids -- such as those found in corn oil -- caused human prostate tumors in cell culture to grow twice as quickly as tumors to which omega-6 fats had not been added, according to a study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

An omega-6 fatty acid known as arachidonic acid turns on a gene signaling pathway that leads directly to tumor growth, according to principal investigator Millie Hughes-Fulford, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Cell Growth at SFVAMC and scientific advisor to the U.S. Under Secretary for Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The results of the study are published in the February 1 issue of Cancer Research.

"After we added omega-6 fatty acids to the growth medium in the dish, and only omega-6, we observed that tumors grew twice as fast as those without omega-6," recounts Hughes-Fulford, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

"Investigating the reasons for this rapid growth, we discovered that the omega-6 was turning on a dozen inflammatory genes that are known to be important in cancer. We then asked what was turning on those genes, and found that omega-6 fatty acids actually turn on a signal pathway called PI3-kinase that is known to be a key player in cancer," she adds.


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