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Can Oily Fish Protect Against Skin Cancer?

Updated on February 18, 2016
JCielo profile image

As a researcher and author, John provides information in an easy-to-understand way that helps readers understand their condition.

Can omega-3 fish oil help to prevent skin cancer?
Can omega-3 fish oil help to prevent skin cancer?

Oily Fish and Skin Cancer

It has been known for some time that omega-3 essential fatty acid plays a key role in skin health and that its deficiency causes skin disorders such as dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

But more recent research is now finding potentially beneficial links between omega-3 and lower risks of skin cancer.

For example, in the July 2006 issue of the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention, researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, reported...

"In toto, there is strong circumstantial evidence from both experimental and clinical studies to support a role for omega-3 FA in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC)."

Now, one of the greatest sources of omega-3 is oily fish and associated fish oil supplements. And the latest study into the effects of omega-3 fish oil and the prevention of skin cancer has just been published...

Can Oily Fish Protect Against Skin Cancer? New Report Findings

Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements
Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements

It is known that too much sun exposure can lower the body's immune system and reduce its ability to fight skin cancer.

But, according to researchers at the University of Manchester, England, taking omega-3 fish oil on a regular basis may help protect against skin cancer, by reducing the negative impact of the sun on the body's immune system.

Although they recognise that their results are not conclusive, and that much more work is needed to be done, they said that their findings...

“adds to the evidence that omega-3 is a potential nutrient to protect against skin cancer”.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2013, comprised of 79 volunteers and focused on the body's immune response to the sun on the skin.

Half of the volunteers were given 4 grams of omega-3 pills (equivalent to 1 1/2 portions of oily fish) on a daily basis, whilst the other half were given a placebo.

Then, using a special light machine, volunteers were given the equivalent of either 8, 15, or 30 minutes exposure that they would get from midday summer sun in Manchester .

The research team discovered that immune suppression in volunteers given the omega-3 supplements was only half that of those who were given placebos.

This was the case for both 8 minute and 15 minute exposures. However, no significant difference was observed for 30 minute exposures.

What this indicates is that the regular consumption of oily fish and / or fish oil supplements can potentially improve the body's immune response and thus its ability to fight skin cancer.

Team leader Professor Lesley Rhodes suggested that, although the changes were small, omega-3, when taken regularly, could reduce the risk of cancer over a person's lifetime.

There is plenty of evidence that omega-3 fish oil is beneficial in decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, reducing arterial plaque build-up, and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, and so on. Now, there is increasing evidence that omega-3 fish oil may also help to prevent skin cancer.

Nordic Naturals - Ultimate Omega, Support for a Healthy Heart, Lemon, 180 Soft Gels
Nordic Naturals - Ultimate Omega, Support for a Healthy Heart, Lemon, 180 Soft Gels

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The content of this Hub is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for proper medical diagnosis, treatment or advice, and you should not assume that it is. Always consult your health-care provider / physician / doctor before taking any medications, natural remedies, supplements, or making any major changes to your diet.

© 2013 JCielo


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    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      Excellent article and sound advice. I've taken fish oil tablets for years and have great faith in them for all the reasons set out in the Hub and even more. Best/Sis

    • JCielo profile image

      JCielo 4 years ago from England

      @AliciaC @Gail Meyers - Thanks for you support. It's appreciated.

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 4 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      I knew fish oil helped with a variety of things, but I have not read it protects against skin cancer. Thanks for sharing another good read. Voted up and useful.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing this interesting information about fish oil. I'll be following the research with great interest!