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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Erickson, Kent
item Kelley, Darshan
item Hubbard, Neil

Submitted to: Diet and Human Immune Function
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2003
Publication Date: 12/1/2003
Citation: Erickson, K.L., Kelley, D.S., Hubbard, N.E. Dietary fat, immunity and cancer. Diet and Human Immune Function. Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ, chapter 18,pp345-360

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: We have reviewed the literature regarding the effects of dietary fat on immune status or response as well as cancer risk in humans. Select fatty acids, notably those of the n-3 family, appear to selectively decrease some lymphocyte neutrophil and macrophage functions but not all. Even when the same lymphocyte function or cytokine profiles were assessed after dietary fat manipulation, different and sometimes divergent results were reported by different investigators. Although an extensive number of animal studies as well as in vitro studies with human tumors have shown pronounced effects of dietary fats and specific fatty acids in reducing tumorigenesis at a number of sites, case-control and cohort studies have demonstrated an effect of altering tumorigenesis at fewer sites. Whether any of those changes are related to altered tumor immunity is unknown. Intervention studies are clearly needed to resolve which fats alter tumorigenesis at what sites. Those types of studies are extremely difficult given the often long duration between dietary alteration and clinical detection of a tumor. Nevertheless, reduction of fat consumption and an increase of n-3 fatty acids may be prudent as no detrimental effects have been reported with respect to immunity and cancer and in some cases very beneficial effects.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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