Dietary Lipids and Cancer



Rgia A Othman

Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, The University of Manitoba and Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre, Winnipeg, Canada

Libyan J Med AOP:070831(published 20 October 2007)


For many years, epidemiological studies continued to suggest that high fat diets are linked to an increased incidence of certain cancers. However, whether the oncogenic properties of fat are associated with their quantity rather than the quality has become debatable. Epidemiological studies have been suggesting that n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 PUFA) and saturated fats are more likely to increase the incidence of cancer, whereas monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are more likely to prevent or decrease the chance of carcinogenesis. A firm conclusion cannot be drawn yet because of insufficient research. This paper reviews the current knowledge of the effects of saturated fats, different types of unsaturated fats, and fat-soluble vitamins on the etiology of cancer.

Keywords: cancer; saturated fats; monounsaturated fatty acids, MUFA; n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, n-3 PUFA; n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, n-6 PUFA; arachidonic acid, AA; eicosanoids; anti-inflammatory; anti-proliferative effects; apoptosis