Polyunsaturated fatty acids killed incubated human breast, lung and prostate cancer cells at concentrations which had no adverse effects on normal human fibroblasts or on normal animal cell lines.

The most consistent and selective effects were obtained with fatty acids containing 3, 4 and 5 double bonds. When human cancer cells and normal human fibroblasts were co-cultured in the absence of polyunsaturated fatty acids, the malignant cells overgrew the normal ones.

When eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3n-6) or arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) were added to the co-cultures, the normal cells outgrew the malignant ones. These observations suggest that treatment of malignancy with polyunsaturated fatty acids may have considerable potential while being associated with a high level of safety.