Omega-3 and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Review of Recent Studies
By: Dr. Odessa Gill

Recently a study was published in the online journal of Journal of the National Cancer Institute (July 10, 2013) that reported fish oils may promote prostate cancer in men. The authors’ statements need to be clarified and explained. The study conclusions are misleading. The study itself was not designed to research this relationship as the intake of omega-3 (via diet or supplements) was unknown for the small study subjects! The conclusions arose from a measured statistical association between omega-3 levels in the blood in a small group of patients. The statistical variation seen at 0.2% is of questionable clinical value. As there are many concerns with the study itself, it would require larger investigations such as a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial to conclude that fish oils may promote prostate cancer. In fact, there are numerous studies that suggest the opposite effect. In studies where supplemental omega-3 was monitored, there was no association to prostate cancer risk. The ultimate point is – Continue taking your fish oils! For more info, review these studies which highlight the benefits of fish oil and prostate cancer risk:

  1. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Jul;16(7):1364-70. A prospective study of polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in blood and prostate cancer risk. Chavarro et al.
  2. PLos One. 2013 Apr 17;8(4):e59799. Consumption of fish products across the lifespan and prostate cancer risk. Torfadottir et al.
  3. Br J Cancer. 1999 Dec;81(7):1238-42. Prostate cancer risk and consumption of fish oils: a dietary biomarker-based case-control study. Norrish et al.
  4. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Apr 2;158(7):515-25. Plasma phospholipid long-chain ω-3 fatty acids and total and cause-specific mortality in older adults: a cohort study. Mozaffarian et al.
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