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Novel COX-2 combination treatment may reduce colon cancer risk

Philadelphia, PA -- A combination of low-dose COX (cyclooxygenase)-2 inhibitors (celecoxib) and a biologically active component of fish oil (n-3 PUFAs, such as docosahexanoic acid, DHA) may prevent, and even treat, colon cancer, according to data published in the Proceedings for the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). This effect of the low-dose combination regimen on human colon cancer cells was more pronounced than the use of each agent separately at high doses.

"Any medications taken at high doses may be accompanied by negative side effects, which may make them undesirable for the prevention and treatment of cancer," according to C.V. Rao, Ph.D., Associate Chief, Division of Nutritional Carcinogenesis, Institute For Cancer Prevention, American Health Foundation-Cancer Center, Valhalla, New York. "Therefore, we were pleased to see in our study that the combination treatment of COX-2 and fish oil component (DHA) was effective at tolerable doses."

In the study, human colon cancer cells were treated with several concentrations of celecoxib in combination with DHA, and either celecoxib or DHA alone. The study measured markers including cell growth, cell death, COX-2 expression and activity, and iNOS (inducible nitric oxide synthesis) expression. Results showed that celecoxib and/ or DHA inhibit cell growth and induce cell death at concentrations of >100 M

(micrometer) celecoxib and >150 M DHA in the human colon cancer cell line HCA-7. However, combining low-dose levels of celecoxib (50 M) and DHA (75 M) results in synergistic suppression of cell growth and also induces cell death in HCA-7 cells. Importantly, the key molecular targets of celecoxib and DHA, COX-2 expression and activity, are also synergistically suppressed by low-dose combinations of these agents.

Previous pre-clinical (animal) studies have demonstrated that the administration of fish oil alone reduces the risk of colon cancer by 60 to
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Contact: Aimee Frank
202-955-6222
American Association for Cancer Research
8-Apr-2003


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