WEDNESDAY, June 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in oily fish, and the anesthetic propofol appears effective in fighting breast cancer and may provide the basis for the development of new drugs to treat the disease, researchers report.
In laboratory tests, this combination reduced the ability of breast cancer cells to turn into malignant tumors -- inhibiting cancer cell migration by 50 percent and greatly reducing their metastatic activity, the study said.
Researchers at the Methodist Research Institute and Indiana University in Indianapolis studied the effects on breast cancer cells of two omega-3 fatty acids - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) -- combined with propofol, a potent antioxidant that's been shown to inhibit cancer cell migration by only 5 percent to 10 percent.
Used alone, DHA and EPA have little effect on cancer cells.
But when used in combination, propofol and DHA or EPA have a much greater impact on the spread of malignancy, the Indianapolis team found.
"These results suggest that the novel propofol-DHA and propofol-EPA conjugates reported here may be useful for the treatment of breast cancer," the study authors concluded.
Their findings appear in the current issue of Breast Cancer Research.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.