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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 May;8(5):359-64. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0351. Epub 2015 Feb 23.

Omega-3 and omega-6 Fatty acids in blood and breast tissue of high-risk women and association with atypical cytomorphology.

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Department of Dietetics and Nutrition University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Department of Pathology, Mercy Hospital, Miami, Florida.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.


The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, especially the long-chain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to arachidonic acid (AA) ratio, is inversely associated with breast cancer risk. We measured the association between cytologic atypia, a biomarker for short-term risk of breast cancer development, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake and levels in blood and breast tissue. Blood and benign breast tissue, sampled by random periareolar fine-needle aspiration (RPFNA), was obtained from 70 women at elevated risk for breast cancer. Self-reported dietary intake was assessed by the NCI's Food Frequency Questionnaire. The fatty acid composition of five lipid compartments, red blood cell, plasma and breast phospholipids, and plasma and breast triaclyglycerides (TAG), was analyzed by gas chromatography as weight percent. Median daily intakes of EPA+DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids were 80 mg and 1.1 g, respectively. The median total omega-3:6 intake ratio was 1:10. Compared with women without atypia, those with cytologic atypia had lower total omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cell and plasma phospholipids and lower omega-3:6 ratios in plasma TAGs and breast TAGs (P < 0.05). The EPA+DHA:AA ratio in plasma TAGs was also lower among women with atypia. This is the first report of associations between tissue levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and a reversible tissue biomarker of breast cancer risk. RPFNA cytomorphology could serve as a surrogate endpoint for breast cancer prevention trials of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

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