A recent headliner suggesting that fish oils could boost prostate cancer risk has stimulated understandable worries and questions from regular users of fish oil supplements and oily fish eaters. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute using data relating to vitamin E (a synthetic form) and selenium.
In a great review of the research, Dr Mike Murray describes how researchers measured the levels of fats in the blood (plasma phospholipids) and concluded that men with the highest concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA-three fatty acids derived from fish and fish-oil supplements-had an increased risk of prostate cancer and offers a critical analysis of the actual data to help redress the argument.
Dr Murray also highlights how many previous papers have shown a significant protective effect associated with fish oil use, I have listed the key observations from papers Dr Murray cites below;
1. Researchers investigated the effect of dietary fatty fish intake among 6,272 Swedish men who were followed for 30 years. Results showed that men who ate no fish had a two- to three-fold increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who consumed large amounts of fish in their diet.
2. Data from the Physician’s Health Study, a study spanning 22 years, found that fish consumption (≥5 times per week) reduced the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 36%.
3. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health that involved 47,882 men over twelve years found that eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer but had an even greater impact on the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. For each additional 500 mg of marine fat consumed, the risk of metastatic disease decreased by 24%.
4. In one of the best-designed studies, researchers in New Zealand examined the relationship between prostate cancer risk and EPA+ DHA in red blood cells (a more reflective marker for long-term omega-3 fatty acid intake). Higher levels of EPA+DHA were associated with a 40% reduced risk of prostate cancer.
5. In a study of 47,866 US men aged 40-75 years with no cancer history in 1986 who were followed for 14 years EPA+DHA intake at the highest levels was associated with a 26% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
Before jumping to the wrong conclusions regarding your fish oil intake I strongly suggest you read Dr Murray’s commentary today by clicking here.