The effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated Fatty Acid consumption on mammary carcinogenesis

Lipids. 2015 May;50(5):437-46. doi: 10.1007/s11745-015-4011-2. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


The consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Studies in animals and in vitro have demonstrated mechanisms that could explain this apparent effect, but clinical and epidemiological studies have returned conflicting results on the practical benefits of dietary n-3 PUFA for prevention of breast cancer. Effects are often only significant within a population when comparing the highest n-3 PUFA consumption group to the lowest n-3 group or highest n-6 group. The beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic on the risk of breast cancer are dose dependent and are negatively affected by total n-6 consumption. The majority of the world population, including the most highly developed regions, consumes insufficient n-3 PUFA to significantly reduce breast cancer risk. This review discusses the physiological and dietary context in which reduction of breast cancer risk may occur, some proposed mechanisms of action and meaningful recommendations for consumption of n-3 PUFA in the diet of developed regions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid