Omega 3 are important molecules for membrane order and function; they can also modify gene-expression, inflammation-inducible cytokines production, regulation of eicosanoid production, plasma TAG level, blood pressure, and ion flux in cardiac cells. Omega-3 have been hypothesized to influence colorectal carcinogenesis through many mechanisms (e.g. inhibiting COX2, increasing apoptosis, reducing angiogenesis). Low dose of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) synergistically interacts with arachidonic acid, suggesting that dietary supplementation of DHA might achieve therapeutic gain.In breast cancer supplementation with DHA synergistically enhances toxane cytotoxicity, down regulate HER-2/neu (c-erbB-2) oncogene expression, modifies the production of the heparansulfate syndecan-1, suggesting a gene-nutrient interaction of critical importance for mammary carcinogenesis and supporting the hypothesis that omega-3 can be used as modulators of cancer cell chemo-sensitivity.Aim of the study was to evaluate the potential value of tumor risk assessment in colon and breast cancer patients by determining the ratio between arachidonic and eicosapentaenoic acids (AA/EPA) in plasma in a case-control study against healthy patients; secondary endpoint was to assess a difference within the cancer patients group correlated to stage, histology, steroids administration, omega-3 dietary intake.; 46 patients affected by histologically proven malignancy, 32 with colon cancer and 14 with breast cancer , were included in our study. Median age was 70 (range 53 - 81) and 77 (range 44 - 86) respectively; because from our previous studies we demonstrated that the AA/EPA ratio is age dependent, we used a control arm with the same median age. The AA/EPA ratio was 22.232+1.852 in patients with colon cancer and 21.029+2.584 in patients with breast cancer; in healthy subjects with the same median age the AA/EPA ratio was 14.25+1.083 and 12.10+1.414 respectively. This difference was statistically significant (p<0.01).These data suggest that AA/EPA ratio in plasma is strongly correlated with cancer disease. Previous data showed that supplementation of cancer patients with omega-3 reduces the AA/EPA ratio. These data will be presented during the congress. These results may suggest a nutraceutical role of omega 3 as adjuvant in cancer therapy that must be investigated in controlled trials.

[First AACR International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development, Sep 12-15, 2006]