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Bowel Cancer

How Fish Can Prevent Bowel Cancer

Researchers at St George’s Hospital in London have discovered that the Omega 3s found in oily fish could help prevent cancer of the bowel.

The participants had all suffered from polyps in the bowel, which can turn cancerous if not removed, so these people were prone to developing cancer.


Our bodies are continuously renewing cells – they grow and die.

In a normal person, one cell dies and is replaced by another cell the same, but it’s been discovered that in a patient who has polyps, their cells are produced at a faster rate than they die. This results in too many cells and so a polyp is formed where cells grow on top of each other.

30 patients who had had bowel polyps took part in a 3 month trial. Samples of the colon lining were taken and examined at the start.

They were randomly given Omega 3 oil capsules or no treatment and then at the end of the trial, further samples were taken.

In the group who had taken the oil, it was found that their cell generation rate had fallen by nearly 25% - so they were producing a lot less cells in their bowel.

The rate at which cells had died had increased by over 100% - which also meant there were a lot less cells.

The third finding was that the levels of the fatty acids in the cells were doubled.

This research indicates that the Omega 3s play a part in cell regeneration and maybe over a period of time, they could return these patients to a normal rate of cell reproduction, thereby eliminating the risk of polyps forming and preventing that specific type of bowel cancer developing.

Two further trials are being planned. The first is to measure the levels of the fatty acids and cell production and death after 6 months, which will help to confirm the trial’s results and reach a conclusion as to the best dosage,

The second one is even more exciting. This will be on patients who have familial adenomatous polyposis. This is a condition where people are genetically likely to form polyps which would in turn make them more likely to develop bowel cancer.

If these trials prove their original findings, it could mean that one more cancer that threatens us could be prevented.

You are what you eat is an old saying and all research is pointing to the benefits of eating oily fish.

› Bowel Cancer Prevention

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