By now, most of us are aware that eating foods like processed meat can cause colorectal cancer, but are there foods you can eat that have the opposite effect? According to a new study, piling some salmon onto your plate could have a very positive impact when it comes to this common type of cancer.
A study out of Aberdeen University found that eating foods like salmon, chia seeds and walnuts can increase your chances of surviving colorectal cancer. It is the omega-3 fatty acids found in these foods that stop the spread of deadly tumors throughout your body. After eating these foods, molecules are released that target and attack cancer cells.
To reach these conclusions, the scientists measured the enzymes created when 650 colorectal cancer patients ate foods containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The results were then compared to the people’s chances of survival. Those who had the highest proportion of the omega-3 metabolizing enzymes in proportion to the omega-6 metabolizing enzymes had the best chances of surviving and their tumors spread the least.
The study’s lead author, Graeme Murray, identified what made this study so groundbreaking. He said that before the study, scientists were not aware of a relationship between the enzymes studied and colorectal cancer survival. It provides even more evidence that omega-3 fats can provide some very useful health benefits.
In addition, they found that having a higher proportion of the omega-6 metabolizing enzyme when compared to omega-3 can create worse outcomes for patients.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the nation’s third-most common cancer in both genders, with men having a lifetime risk of 1 in 21 of developing it and women having a risk of 1 in 23. It’s the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and the third in women, and it’s expected to kill more than 50,000 Americans this year.
Past studies show benefits of omega-3 for those with other types of cancer
Past research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can prevent this type of cancer in the first place, with a study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention finding that men with the highest omega-3 levels in their blood had a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Other studies have found that raising omega-3 fatty acids while lowering omega-6 fatty acids can slow prostate cancer progression by reducing inflammation, tumor size and tumor growth rates. These fats have also been shown to help slow the proliferation of breast cancer.
Where to get omega-3
Salmon packs quite a punch when it comes to omega-3 and is easy to incorporate into your diet. It’s simple to prepare on a grill or in the oven, and it pairs well with every vegetable you can imagine. If you’re thinking of increasing your salmon intake, however, there is one caveat: you’ll want to seek out wild-caught salmon that hails from non-polluted waters.
This type of salmon is high in astaxanthin, which is what gives salmon its beautiful hue. It is believed to give the fish the antioxidant protection that powers their ability to swim up rivers. In addition, wild salmon offers a full spectrum of essential amino acids that can help optimize immune function and boost cellular repair.
Unfortunately, the cheaper farm-raised salmon tend to be fed genetically modified grains. With flesh that is closer to grey than white, these salmon are deficient in omega-3 as well as astaxanthin. Making matters worse, some fish farms use chemical-based coloring to make this sick salmon appear pinker. Alaskan salmon is usually a safe bet as long as it is wild-caught, as this type has been shown to have very little chemical residue. If the source of your salmon cannot be verified, it’s safer to stick with omega-3-rich alternatives like organic chia seeds, walnuts, spinach, and flaxseed oil.