Omega 3 oils are known to be beneficial when it comes to joint and cardiovascular health and now, scientists from the University of Manchester say that the oil could also play a role in helping to prevent skin cancer.

The study was made possible by funding from the Association for International Cancer Research and involved 79 patients. The study set out to find whether taking omega 3 in the form of fish oil could protect the skin from the damaging effects of sun’s rays.

One group of patients involved in the study were given a 4g dose of fish oils and were then exposed to up to 30 minutes of simulated sunshine, while others involved in the study were given a placebo.

It was found that by taking the oils regularly it was possible to boost the skins immunity from the sunlight. It was also discovered that Omega 3 oils reduced immunosuppression, which can leave people more vulnerable to skin cancer and other health issues.

Commenting in a press release, Professor Lesley Rhodes, who led the study, said:

“There has been research in this area carried out on mice in the past but this is the first time that there has been a clinical trial directly in people.”

“It has taken a number of years to get to this stage and the findings are very exciting.

“This study adds to the evidence that omega-3 is a potential nutrient to protect against skin cancer. Although the changes we found when someone took the oil were small, they suggest that a continuous low level of chemoprevention from taking omega-3 could reduce the risk of skin cancer over an individual’s lifetime.”

Despite the promising results of this study, the study author warns that just taking fish oils alone is not sufficient to help protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays and sunscreen should still be worn.

The incidence of skin cancer continues to increase; statistics from Cancer Research UK show that in 2010, more than 12,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with malignant melanoma and there were 2.746 deaths.

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