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Exp Ther Med. 2018 Feb;15(2):1167-1176. doi: 10.3892/etm.2017.5515. Epub 2017 Nov 16.

Implications of dietary ω-3 and ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast cancer.

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Research Center for Functional Genomics, Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, 400337 Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Department of Physiopathology, University of Agricultural Science and Veterinary Medicine, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Texas Tech University Honors College, McClellan Hall, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA.
Surgical Clinic II Hospital, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Department of Surgery, Iuliu Haţieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, 400012 Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
MEDFUTURE-Research Center for Advanced Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iuliu-Hatieganu, 400349 Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Department of Functional Genomics, Proteomics and Experimental Pathology, Prof Dr Ion Chiricuta Oncology Institute, 400015 Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Breast cancer represents one of the most common forms of cancer in women worldwide, with an increase in the number of newly diagnosed patients in the last decade. The role of fatty acids, particularly of a diet rich in ω-3 and ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), in breast cancer development is not fully understood and remains controversial due to their complex mechanism of action. However, a large number of animal models and cell culture studies have demonstrated that high levels of ω-3 PUFAs have an inhibitory role in the development and progression of breast cancer, compared to ω-6 PUFAs. The present review focused on recent studies regarding the correlation between dietary PUFAs and breast cancer development, and aimed to emphasize the main molecular mechanisms involved in the modification of cell membrane structure and function, modulation of signal transduction pathways, gene expression regulation, and antiangiogenic and antimetastatic effects. Furthermore, the anticancer role of ω-3 PUFAs through the modulation of microRNA expression levels was also reviewed.


breast cancer; diet and health effects; microRNA expression; signal transduction pathways; ω-3 and ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids

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