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Br J Cancer. 1994 Aug;70(2):330-4.

alpha-Linolenic acid content of adipose breast tissue: a host determinant of the risk of early metastasis in breast cancer.

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Laboratoire de Biologie des Tumeurs, Tours, France.


The association between the levels of various fatty acids in adipose breast tissue and the emergence of visceral metastases was prospectively studied in a cohort of 121 patients with an initially localised breast cancer. Adipose breast tissue was obtained at the time of initial surgery, and its fatty acid content analysed by capillary gas chromatography. A low level of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) in adipose breast tissue was associated with positive axillary lymph node status and with the presence of vascular invasion, but not with tumour size or mitotic index. After an average 31 months of follow-up, 21 patients developed metastases. Large tumour size, high mitotic index, presence of vascular invasion and low level of 18:3n-3 were single factors significantly associated with an increased risk of metastasis. A Cox proportional hazard regression model was used to identify prognostic factors. Low 18:3n-3 level and large tumour size were the two factors predictive of metastases. These results suggest that host alpha-linolenic acid has a specific role in the metastatic process in vivo. Further understanding of the biology of this essential fatty acid of the n-3 series is needed in breast carcinoma.

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