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Omega-3 Fats Help Colorectal Health

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, May 28, 2010, abstracted from “Eicosapentaenoic acid reduces rectal polyp number and size in familial adenomatous polyposis” printed online in Gut

The National Cancer Institutes defines a colon polyp as “An abnormal growth of tissue in the lining of the bowel” (1). Now a new study (2) has found that omega-3 fats may help colorectal health in people with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, an inherited disorder characterized by extensive polyp growth (3).

In the study, 55 patients with diagnosed FAP were given either 2 grams of omega-3 fats per day or placebo for 6 months before and after which researchers performed an endoscopy to measure the number and size of polyps in the patients. They then scored the “global rectal polyp burden” as -1, 0, or +1, with a decrease in score indicating an increased growth of polyps. (This is a health score, so a positive number is good and a negative number indicates a decline in health.)

By the end of the study, the researchers found that those in the omega-3 group averaged a 22.4% reduction in polyp number (p=0.012) and a 29.8% decrease in the total number of polyp diameters (p=0.027). The body’s global polyp burden (number of polyps found in the study participants) was nearly 400% higher in the placebo group (-0.34) than in the omega-3 group (+0.09) Finally, there was a 260% increase in omega-3 levels in the omega-3 patients compared to the placebo group with no adverse reactions in the omega-3 patients compared to the placebo group.

For the researchers, “[omega-3 fatty acids] have [cancer-preventive] efficacy in FAP” and that “EPA holds promise as a colorectal cancer chemoprevention agent with a favorable safety profile.”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com

1. National Cancer Institute “Dictionary of Cancer Terms” - http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=44657
2. West N. Eicosapentaenoic acid reduces rectal polyp number and size in familial adenomatous polyposis. Gut 2010; DOI: 10.1136/gut.2009.200642
3. Familial adenomatous polyposis - http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/familial-adenomatous-polyposis
4. Iwama T. NSAIDs and colorectal cancer prevention. Gastroenterol 2009;44 Suppl 19:72-6. Epub 2009 Jan 16