Potential of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in melanoma prevention

Nutr Rev. 2014 Apr;72(4):255-66. doi: 10.1111/nure.12093. Epub 2014 Mar 25.


The possible antineoplastic activity of dietary long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC n-3 PUFAs) has been supported by ample preclinical studies that have identified a number of molecular factors and pathways affected by these fatty acids and involved in cell growth, apoptosis, invasion, and angiogenesis. The aim of this critical review is to assess the current state of knowledge on the potential anticancer effects of LC n-3 PUFAs against malignant melanoma, one of the most common cancers among Western populations. The results of preclinical as well as human observational and interventional studies investigating the effects of LC n-3 PUFAs in melanoma were examined. Overall, the analysis of the literature reveals that, even though a large body of information is available, further effort is needed to identify the main molecular targets of LC n-3 PUFAs in melanoma. Moreover, additional well-designed human observational studies are essential to shed further light on the issue. The results of these studies could provide support and specific information for the development of clinical studies, especially those performed in combination with conventional or innovative antineoplastic therapies.

Keywords: chemoprevention; experimental studies; fatty acids; human studies; long-chain n-3 PUFA; melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / therapeutic use
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3

Supplementary concepts

  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant