Exploring the causal relationship between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and kidney cancer: a Mendelian randomization study

Transl Cancer Res. 2024 Apr 30;13(4):1685-1694. doi: 10.21037/tcr-23-2058. Epub 2024 Apr 24.


Background: The causal link between kidney cancer and omega-3/6 (ω-3/6) fatty acids is yet to be clearly established. Therefore, the objective of our study was to investigate these potential causal relationships.

Methods: We conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to investigate the possible causal association between ω-3/6 fatty acids and kidney cancer. We utilized the random effect inverse variance weighted (IVW) method as our primary analytical approach for the two-sample MR analysis. In addition, sensitivity analyses such as heterogeneity tests, pleiotropy analyses, and leave-one-out analyses were performed to assess the robustness of the MR analysis results.

Results: The IVW method showed statistically significant associations between ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids and increased risk of kidney cancer. The result for ω-3 and ω-6 were [odds ratio (OR) =1.27; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04-1.55; P=0.02] and (OR =1.56; 95% CI: 1.17-2.09; P=0.003), respectively. Moreover, in the results of sensitivity analyses, no apparent horizontal gene pleiotropy nor heterogeneity was observed. After performing "the leave-one-out" sensitivity analysis of the data one by one, no single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) sites in each instrumental variable (IV) were found to have greatly affected the disease outcome.

Conclusions: Elevated serum ω-3/6 fatty acids levels are causally associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor dietary intake and properly intervene to lower these levels in those at risk of kidney cancer.

Keywords: Kidney cancer; Mendelian randomization (MR); causal relationship; omega-3 fatty acids (ω-3 fatty acids); omega-6 fatty acids (ω-6 fatty acids).