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J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2487S-2491S.

Translational regulation of gene expression by omega-3 fatty acids.

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  • 1Laboratory for Translational Research and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The incidence of some cancers shows dramatic variations around the world that cannot be explained by ethnic or racial differences. Observational studies point to a negative correlation between consumption of fish and incidence of breast and prostate cancer. In vitro and animal model studies indicate that (omega-3) PUFAs present at high concentrations in marine animals inhibit proliferation of cancer cells and growth of tumors. However, how these fatty acids inhibit cell proliferation and tumor growth is a matter of considerable debate. In this review we summarize our recent work indicating that Ca(++) depletion mediated phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eIF2 and subsequent inhibition of translation initiation account for the anti-cancer activity of (omega-3) PUFAs.

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