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Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2015 Jun 1;7:30-9.

The role of nutritional lipids and antioxidants in UV-induced skin cancer.

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Department of Dermatology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, 77030, USA,


Two dietary tenets of the free radical theory of cancer require refinement. The first was dietary reduction of vulnerable free-radical targets, e.g., polyunsaturated lipids. The second was the addition of one or more antioxidants to the diet. Further, it was reported in 1939 that high levels of dietary fat exacerbated UV-carcinogenesis. Both lines of enquiry (dietary lipid and antioxidant effects on UV-carcinogenesis) were investigated. Both dietary lipids and antioxidants modified carcinogenic expression. Increasing levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) exacerbated UV-carcinogenesis. However, omega-3 PUFA dramatically inhibited carcinogenic expression. It is probable that the action of omega-6 and-3 PUFA rests with differential metabolic intermediates, both tumor promoting and immune-modulating, that each PUFA generates through lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase pathways. Antioxidant supplementation with butylated hydroxytoluene or beta-carotene demonstrated that each exerted its own specific antioxidant mechanism(s). When introduced into the complex milieu of the cell with its own intricate and complex antioxidant defense system, detrimental effects may ensue. These results point to oversimplification of these dietary suggestions to reduce cancer risk and the necessity to refine these dietary recommendations.

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