Recent evidence on the role of dietary PUFAs in cancer development and prevention

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During the last decades a great bulk of scientific information has been accumulated about the metabolic effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can impact human health. In particular, a growing body of evidence from in vitro, animal, and clinical studies supporting the use of n-3 PUFAs in cancer prevention has been collected. Furthermore, a considerable effort has recently been done to evaluate the hypothesis that n-3 PUFAs might improve the efficiency of currently used anticancer drugs. The role of n-6 PUFAs, in contrast, needs to be better assessed. A high dietary intake of n-6 PUFAs has been found to be associated with an increased risk of various cancer development; however, it should be mentioned that several papers have highlighted beneficial effects of n-6 PUFAs. The effective mechanisms of action of PUFAs have not been fully clarified yet, even if the incorporation of fatty acids in cell membranes has been considered a pivotal event in modulating inflammatory processes. This review aims to report the most updated evidence on the role of n-6 and n-3 PUFAs in the development and treatment of human cancers, focusing on the potential mechanisms by which PUFAs exert their effects. Moreover, gender-associated differences in response to PUFAs treatment were pointed out.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 4 2017


  • PUFAs
  • Cancer development
  • diet
  • Human health
  • nutrition
  • omega 3
  • omega 6


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