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The effect of gamma-linolenic acid, an in vitro cytostatic substance contained in evening primrose oil, on primary liver cancer. A double-blind placebo controlled trial.

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Medical University of Southern Africa, Department of Internal Medicine.


The cytostatic effects of essential fatty acid metabolic intermediates and of some prostaglandins and leukotrienes in vitro have been extensively documented. The essential fatty acids (EFAs) exhibit no side-effects when taken as a dietary supplement, even in large doses. Primary Liver Cancer (PLC) is a fatal disease in our area as it is always multifocal in nature. In vitro studies have shown a cytostatic effect of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) on primary liver cancer cells. In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, using Evening Primrose Oil (as a source of GLA) as a dietary supplement in PLC patients, no statistically significant effect was observed on survival time or liver size. There was however a statistical significant beneficial effect on Gamma Glutamyl transferase values as a measure of liver function. No side-effects were observed. The large size of tumour and the low doses of GLA used in this trial probably explain the lack of significant effect on survival times.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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