Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on progestin stimulation of invasive properties in breast cancer

Horm Cancer. 2012 Dec;3(5-6):205-17. doi: 10.1007/s12672-012-0118-6. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


Clinical studies have shown that progestins increase breast cancer risk in hormone replacement therapy, while we and others have previously reported that progestins stimulate invasive properties in progesterone receptor (PR)-rich human breast cancer cell lines. Based on others' reports that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit metastatic properties of breast cancer, we have reviewed the literature for possible connections between omega-3 fatty-acid-driven pathways and progestin-stimulated pathways in an attempt to suggest theoretical mechanisms for possible omega-3 fatty acid inhibition of progestin stimulation of breast cancer invasion. We also present some data suggesting that fatty acids regulate progestin stimulation of invasive properties in PR-rich T47D human breast cancer cells, and that an appropriate concentration of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid inhibits progestin stimulation of invasive properties. It is hoped that focus on the inter-relationship between pathways by which omega-3 fatty acids inhibit and progestins stimulate breast cancer invasive properties will lead to further in vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies testing the hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit progestin stimulation of invasive properties in breast cancer, and ameliorate harmful effects of progestins which occur in combined progestin-estrogen hormone replacement therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Progestins / adverse effects*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Progestins
  • Receptors, Progesterone