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Oils that prevent allergy may block cancer treatment

Tuesday September 13th, 2011

Women who consume fish and nut oils in pregnancy may help reduce their child's risk of developing allergy, researchers have reported.

The new study, conducted in Rennes, France, shows how the oils make a difference to the way the child's gut develops.

Researchers said the oils, known as n-3 polyunsatured fatty acids or omega-3 oils, make the gut more permeable.

This allows bacteria and other substances to come into contact with the bloodstream, enabling a baby's immune system to develop, they say.

Researcher Dr Gaëlle Boudry, of the INRA research institute, said: "The end result is that the baby’s immune system may develop and mature faster – leading to better immune function and less likelihood of suffering allergies."

The findings, reported in the Journal of Physiology, come from a study of pigs.

Dr Boudry said: "Other studies have found that a diet containing fish or walnut oil during pregnancy may make your baby smarter – our research adds to this, suggesting such supplements also accelerate the development of a healthy immune system to ward off food allergies."

* A second study warns cancer patients against taking fish oil supplements with chemotherapy.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, say fatty acids known as PIFAs - platinum-induced fatty acids - can interfere with a wide range of chemotherapy.

The fatty acids are also found in commercially produced fish oil supplements and in some algae extracts, they say.

But they are also produced by the body's own stem cells in response to chemotherapy, they say.

Cancer specialist Professor Emile Voest said: "Where resistance to chemotherapy is concerned, we usually believe that changes in the cancer cells themselves have occurred. Now we show that the body itself secretes protective substances into the blood that are powerful enough to block the effect of chemotherapy. These substances can be found in some types of fish oil.

"Whilst waiting for the results of further research, we currently recommend that these products should not be used whilst people are undergoing chemotherapy."

n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the maternal diet modify the postnatal development of nervous regulation of intestinal permeability in piglets J Physiol September 2011 589 (17) 4341-4352

Cancer Cell September 12 2011

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Cancer | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | Europe | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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