Fish oil supplements, high in omega-3 fatty acids have gained popularity with people who are looking to reduce inflammation in conditions like arthritis or to assist with cardiovascular health. There are thousands of research articles investigating the benefits of fish oil in a range of diseases and several Cochrane reviews on the benefits. Recently there has been some suggestion that fish oil omega-3 may be not beneficial for cases of Prostate cancer. What does that mean if you have been diagnosed wtih prostate cancer and have been taking fish oil?
A recent study published by researches at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that high concentrations of fish oil are “linked” with a 71% increased risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer. The study also suggests that too much EPA/DHA rich fish oil can also lead to a 44% increase in the risk of low-grade prostate issues, as well as an overall 43% increase in risk for all forms of prostate cancers. This will obviously scare a great deal of men taking a fish oil supplement.
Many people make changes to their diet and lifestyle after being diagnosed with cancer. Prostate cancer is no different and fish oil supplementation is high on the list of most commonly self-prescribed natural medicines. The study looked at individuals with prostate cancer and found that high serum levels corresponded with them having prostate cancer. An very important point is that there is almost zero difference in the average omega-3 blood levels between the group with prostate cancer and the control group without prostate cancer. The result of the study therefore truely suggest that omega 3 is not going to increase your chance of prostate cancer. It might suggest though that if you do have prostate cancer, omega 3 might make it worse.
Studies can always offer valuable insight and provide evidence for further research into the safety and efficacy of medicines, including natural medicines. There can sometimes be flaws in studies such as questions of potency, quality, methodolgy or similar issues. For this reason, it is important to repeat studies with a variety of participants and medicines to ensure results are conclusive.
The authors have previously conducted a study using the same methodology with a different group of individuals which found no association between omega-3 levels and prostate cancer. This shows the often flexibility in interpretation of research, participates and methodology. As previously stated, well respected cochrane reviews of omega-3 has found it can be beneficial to reducing prostate cancer risk as well as a range of other diseases and health conditions.
One further potential error in the study is that the researchers measured the omega-3 levels in the blood rather than the actual amountof omega 3 taken. Level of all nutrients including the omega-3 concentration vary considerably. It would suggested that further study into omega-3 and prostate cancer investigate both intake and blood concentrations.
In summary, more studies need to be conducted. Based on the abundant literature on the positive effects of increasing omega-3s, EPA and DHA, it is most likely beneficial through other pathways, although, clearly more research must be conducted.