There is strong evidence that obesity poses a significant risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer. There are multiple mechanisms by which obesity can predispose to breast cancer, prominent among which is the creation of a pro-inflammatory milieu systemically in the visceral and subcutaneous tissue, as well as locally in the breast. Although dietary intervention studies have shown in general a favorable effect on biomarkers of breast cancer risk, it is still unclear whether losing excess weight will lower the risk. In this manuscript, we will review the evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, and among them docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular, may reduce the risk of obesity related breast cancer primarily because of their pleotropic effects which target many of the systemic and local oncogenic pathways activated by excess weight. We will also review the evidence indicating that intentional weight loss (IWL) induced by dietary energy restriction (DER) will augment the tumor protective effect of DHA because of its complementary mechanisms of action and its ability to reverse the obesity-induced alterations in fatty acid metabolism predisposing to carcinogenesis. We believe that the combination of DER and DHA is a promising safe and effective intervention for reducing obesity-related breast cancer risk which needs to be validated in appropriately designed prospective, randomized clinical trials.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry