Lipids And Cancer

Lipids may influence processes leading to cancer development by affecting membrane properties, cell signalling pathways, gene expression and immune function. Some dietary lipids may exacerbate carcinogenesis, others retard or prevent it. Liposomes may be used to target drugs in cancer therapy.

Cancer represents the uncontrolled proliferation of cells. It arises from mutations in genes that normally control cell division or promote programmed cell death (apoptosis). The development of cancer involves a number of stages. Initiation is the initial process of DNA mutation; promotion is a stage at which a potentially cancerous cell, through accumulation of further mutations, becomes a fully cancerous cell. Then there is a stage of progression, or development by cell division, following which the cancerous cells may spread and invade other tissues (metastasis).

Lipids are involved in cancer in many ways. Dietary lipids, including micronutrients such as fat-soluble antioxidants, may play a role in predisposing to, or protecting from cancer. The development of cancer involves cellular changes that include alterations to lipid components of the cell (and this may be relevant to the design of new treatments). Finally, there may be a role for certain dietary lipids in the control or treatment of certain cancers or aspects of cancer.

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