A research team from the University of Manchester has published the findings of a study corroborating evidence that a regular intake of omega-3 fish oils may lower the risk of developing skin cancer.
This is the first study of its kind conducted with people as test subjects. Professor Lesley Rhodes, who led the research initiative, said that past efforts in this area had involved mice and it had taken a while to put together a clinical trial with people. The findings of the study, described by Rhodes as "very exciting," have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The research team established that a regular intake of fish oils increased the skin's immunity to sunlight and reduced immunosuppression. The latter is particularly important since it has to do with the body's ability to combat skin cancer and infection.
The researchers selected 79 healthy individuals, giving a group of them 4g of omega-3 daily. Through the use of a special light machine, they exposed the volunteers to 8, 15 or 30 minutes of summer midday sun. Another group received the same sun exposure but their sessions followed the consumption of a placebo. The results showed that immunosuppression was 50% lower in the case of subjects taking omega-3 and getting 8 and 15 minutes of exposure to sun. The study found little influence in the group getting 30 minutes with the machine.
Despite the encouraging results, Rhodes made a point of noting that omega-3 was just an additional protective measure against skin damage. It should by no means be viewed as a substitute for sunscreen and physical protection, she stressed.