News / Health

Study Links Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Prostate Cancer

Salmon is a popular source of fish oil.Salmon is a popular source of fish oil.
Salmon is a popular source of fish oil.
Salmon is a popular source of fish oil.
VOA News
Fish oil supplements that are high in omega-3 fatty acids have been quite popular among people who take them to help with issues such as heart health.

Past research has indicated that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, fish oil and other foods such as wild rice and walnuts, can decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

But now new research released this week indicates that too much omega-3 could put men at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, especially a deadly form of the disease. The finding confirms similar conclusions made in several earlier studies.   
While some experts have expressed skepticism about the study’s findings, men taking the supplement may find themselves weighing the benefits fish oil capsules may provide for their heart health versus the possible harm and increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

The study, conducted by researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found that high concentrations of three anti-inflammatory and metabolically related fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid - EPA, eocosapentaenoic acid - DPA and docosahexaenoic acid – DHA that are found in fatty fish such as salmon as well as in fish-oil supplements, are linked with a 71 percent increased risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer, the kind that experts say are more likely to be fatal.

The Seattle study also revealed that too much of the fatty acids can also lead to a 44 percent increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer – which grows slowly - as well as an overall 43 percent increase in risk for all forms of prostate cancers.

Fish oil capsules are popular for heart health benefitsFish oil capsules are popular for heart health benefits
Fish oil capsules are popular for heart health benefits
Fish oil capsules are popular for heart health benefits
To reach their findings, the researchers studied a group of about 843 men who had prostate cancer and another group of 1,383 men who didn’t have the cancer. They found that the prostate cancer patients had higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids in their blood than those in the non-cancer group.

The researchers said that the consistency of their findings suggest that these fatty acids are connected with the development of prostate tumors. They also caution those who want to increase their dosage of omega-3 fatty acids to consider any potential risks.

The researchers said they’re unclear so far about why the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids would increase prostate cancer risk. They do point out that omega-3 fatty acids converting into compounds could damage cells and DNA, and their role in immunosuppression.  They said that they don’t know whether or not these effects can actually impact cancer risks and that further research into possible mechanisms will be needed.

These new findings, published July 11 in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, confirm those made in 2011 by the same Seattle researchers.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Amy from: Texas
July 13, 2013 9:46 PM
Correlation is not causation. People with heart disease typically have low iodine levels, which can be a main cause of breast and prostate cancers. Keep on looking.

by: Jolosturo from: Palm Caost, FL
July 13, 2013 4:57 PM
Two questions: is it possible that having prostate cancer retains and/or concentrates the fatty-acids in your blood, and did they test for any other factors that applied throughout the test subjects, or were they only looking for results of fatty acids?

by: Sylvester Ogbolu-Otutu from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
July 13, 2013 2:05 PM
Long-term sustainable health can be gained from committing to a strict vegan diet, in which case, one would not need any Omega-3 supplements derived from fish oils, etc. With a proper vegan diet, animal fats from meat, butter, cheese, etc. are removed, and the overall risk of heart disease is lowered. In a nutshell, a vegan diet should help reduce the incidence of different diseases, including cancers, diabetes, etc.

by: Paula Wright-McCluskey from: Roseville, Minnesota
July 13, 2013 12:56 PM
Ever think it is the high levels of the anti-inflammatory, in the fish oil, along with the high amounts of over the counter anti -inflammatory one takes during the day.. as we age we hurt and every one pushes high amounts of anti-inflammatory drugs... just a thought

by: OpenEars
July 13, 2013 10:50 AM
Many Americans have Omega-3 acids present in their bodies; however the vast majority of people with health issues have an incorrect balance of Omega-3, 6 and 9 oils.

Its likely that many of these individuals that contracted the prostate cancer are now taking Omega-3 acids due to its reported health benefits. "The reseachers" conclusion that prostate cancer development is linked to Omega-3 acids should be accompanied by a simple poll; how many of the individuals in each group of the study take supplementary Omega-3 acids, and how often do they eat foods containing high amounts of Omega acids.

by: Bruce from: Blue Springs Mo
July 12, 2013 7:21 PM
I just heard the other day that milk cause's breast,prostrate,and some other kind of cancer.They need to tell us what doesn't cause cancer so we don't have to go at it blindly.
In Response

by: OpenEars
July 13, 2013 5:43 PM

According to Dr. Mercola: "dairy products from cows treated with Monsanto‘s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) could sharply increase your risk of cancer and other diseases, especially in children."

Also on milk pasteurization from Dr. Mercola's website: " one of the worst side effects of pasteurization is that it renders much of the calcium contained in raw milk insoluble… This can lead to rickets, bad teeth, and nervous troubles, for sufficient calcium content is vital to children. Additionally, with the loss of phosphorus also associated with calcium, bone and brain formation can suffer serious setbacks."

by: Anonymous
July 12, 2013 6:52 PM
Oil was found in my husbands bladder during a check for bladder cancer. Should this be drained?
In Response

by: Carl from: Arkansas
July 13, 2013 8:15 PM
Yes.....drain it every 3000 miles and change his filter. It should extend the life of his crankshaft by several years.
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