Ingredients in keto, collagen and omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to skin and hair elasticity and even skin cancer prevention.
But a new study suggests the ingredients might also help keep skin and other body parts healthy.
The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggests that the collagen and the omega 3s are “potentially important in the prevention of skin cancer.”
The omega 3’s are essential for skin cells to form collagen and elasticity, and the ingredients are needed to help skin cells function and repair damage from inflammatory conditions.
But there’s a catch: They don’t actually have the ability to kill cancer cells.
“The only way to prevent cancer is to stop it,” says senior author James Cramer, a professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
“We know that when we destroy cells, we can stop them from growing.”
To do that, the researchers took blood samples from a group of people, and then collected them again a week later.
They compared the people’s skin samples with their skin cells from the same people, before and after they stopped taking their collagen and other omega 3 supplements.
“These are the cells that are being destroyed,” Cramer says.
The researchers found that the skin cells of people who stopped taking omega 3 were less likely to be colonized with cancer cells, as they were in the people who continued taking their omega 3.
The people who took omega 3 also had less inflammation and had less cell death, but the inflammation wasn’t related to the cells’ formation of collagen.
In other words, the people whose omega 3 was stopped didn’t have the same immune response to cancer cells that the people taking omega3 did.
“This study suggests that omega 3 may have anti-inflammatory properties, and may help protect the skin against inflammation,” Cahn says.
“In fact, the study has shown that omega-3 supplementation could reduce inflammation, which could be a very important finding in the fight against cancer.”
But the research team was able to confirm that the omega- 3s were the only way in which omega-6 and omega-7 fatty acids could prevent cancer.
They found that, for example, when they combined omega 3 with omega 6 and omega 7, omega 3 had the ability not only to reduce inflammation but to reduce the production of certain types of cancer-causing proteins in the cells.
The omega- 6 and -7 fatty acid, which have been shown to decrease the growth of cancer cells in animal studies, were also able to reduce their production of some cancer-killing compounds.
This is because omega- 7 fatty acids were able to bind to cancer-promoting proteins in cancer cells to protect them.
This type of binding is known as “anti-proteolytic” because it reduces the growth and development of cancer.
“There’s something very interesting going on here,” Cramer says.
When omega-4 and omega 5 fatty acids are used together, they can interfere with these anti-proto-protoxins.
They also can cause the immune system to make antibodies against the cancer cells and destroy them.
The research team found that omega 5 and omega 6 fatty acids didn’t cause any of these effects.
In fact, they reduced the levels of a protein that helps to regulate the production and secretion of these anti–proteins.
“It’s like there’s this ‘anti-inflammatory’ effect of omega-5 and omega 9 that’s counteracting this anti-protective effect of Omega-3,” Cohn says.
And that’s why the researchers concluded that omega 6 had anti-cancer properties.
Cramer points out that the study looked at the effect of two different types of omega oils, omega 6 with omega 3 and omega 4 with omega 7.
One was produced by the liver, while the other was produced in the gut, which is where omega 3 is derived.
The results showed that the anti-oxidant effect of the omega oils produced by humans can be blocked by omega-8 and omega 8-9 fatty acids.
Cahn thinks that the two fatty acids might be different enough that they can act as a “super agent” that can reduce the inflammation in cells by blocking their ability to make anti-Proteolytics.
“Maybe it’s a little bit of an oxymoron,” he says.
This work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.
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