Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the treatment and prevention of colorectal cancer

Gut. 2012 Jan;61(1):135-49. doi: 10.1136/gut.2010.233718. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


Omega (ω)-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are naturally occurring substances that are well tolerated and have been used extensively for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. More recently, ω-3 PUFAs have been recognised to have anticancer activity. There is also evidence suggesting improved efficacy and/or tolerability of conventional cancer chemotherapy when administered with ω-3 PUFAs. The purpose of this review is to (i) describe the mechanisms by which ω-3 PUFAs are thought to have antineoplastic activity, (ii) review published preclinical and clinical studies that support anti-colorectal cancer activity and (iii) summarise current clinical trials investigating the potential therapeutic role(s) of ω-3 PUFAs at different stages of colorectal carcinogenesis, from adenoma (polyp) prevention to treatment of established malignant disease and prevention of cancer recurrence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Chemoradiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3