With all the positive press fish oil promotes, our inclination would support taking fish oil to promote prostate health. But, what about a recent potential deal-breaker? One nationwide study linked fish oil and prostate cancer. Let's explore facts to arrive at an informed conclusion.
Will Fish Oil Supplements Raise the Risk of Prostate Cancer?
Recent research by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center supports the contention that fish oil increases prostate cancer risk. The study set-out to determine whether or not dietary fats were linked to potential risks of prostate cancer.
One finding concluded that men with high levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their bloodstream are at 2 times greater risk for aggressive prostate cancer, than their counterparts with low DHA levels.
DHA is a component of omega-3 fatty-acids contained in fish oil. It fights inflammation.
The researchers also discovered that men exhibiting high levels of trans-fatty acids in their bloodstream were 50% less likely to contact prostate cancer. Fish oil contains good fats. Trans-fats are contained in hydrogenated vegetable oil. We have long been warned to watch consumption of trans-fatty acids, or bad fats. They link to inflammation and heart disease.
The study concluded that omega-6 fatty-acids, commonly coupled with heart disease and inflammation, had no bearing on risk of prostate cancer. Amazingly, the study suggested, that none of the fats, were connected to risk of low-grade cancer of the prostate.
The results were contrary to popular belief and "stunned" even the researchers. Theodore M. Brasky, Ph.D commented, "Our findings turn what we know - or rather what we think we know - about diet, inflammation and the development of prostate cancer on its head and shine a light on the complexity of studying the association between nutrition and the risk of various chronic diseases."
Here is what we know or as Brasky stated what we think we know:
- Inflammation heightens the risk of various cancers, including prostate.
- Fish oil supplements are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty-acids.
- Trans-fats encourage inflammation.
- Omega-6 fatty acids support inflammation.
Ideally, the study of 3400 men should have validated high blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty-acids reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Not, vice-versa.
Conclusion of study: researchers determined additional studies are warranted. At this point, for total body health, more especially for its ability to ward off heart disease, men should continue supplementing with fish oil.
The Other Side of the Coin - Fish oil Slows Growth of Prostate Cancer
According to a study by Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, supplementing with fish oil, along with eating a nutritious diet, slows prostate cancer growth. One group of study participants ate a diet high in fats and the other, a low-fat diet, along with fish oil supplements.
Researchers determined that fish oil keeps the cancer cells contained in the prostate, making it easier to treat.
Recent research from Manchester, United Kingdom concurs with the Jonsson study. If the prostate tumor cells assault other parts of the male body, the cancer becomes much more dangerous.
Laboratory tests suggested omega-3 fatty-acids in fish oil supplements stop the cancer from attacking bone marrow. Alternatively, omega-6 fatty-acids, particularly prevalent in the Western diet, invite such metastasis. They think the tumors actually thrive on omega-6 fatty-acids, relying upon them as sustenance.
Conclusion of UK study: when omega-3s and omega-6s are balanced cancer may actually stay contained within the male prostate.
Research conducted jointly by the National Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm took a different approach to fish oil and prostate cancer. Their mission was to examine the effects of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) on the prostate. The goal was to determine whether or not the studies proved ALA influenced prostate cancer.
This was a very long study that spanned 14 years, observing 47,866 American health professionals. It began in 1986 and 2965 instances of prostate cancer were reported by 2000. Of these cases, 448 were life-threatening.
Researchers uncovered a defensive effect against prostate cancer risk, linked with a high concentration of fish oil supplements. In particular it became obvious that the EPA and DHA in oils from fatty fish was a definite help when prostate cancer was advanced.
As for ALA ingestion and risk of prostate cancer in general, there was little consequence. Males evidencing an elevated ALA from food sources had greater risk of advanced prostate cancer. However, the omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid and arachindonic acid in fish oil had no correlation with risk of prostate cancer.
A clinical study of 317 male participants, diagnosed with prostate cancer was conducted in Auckland, New Zealand. Researchers acquired blood samples from the men to analyze it for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are fatty-acids contained in fish oil.
Participants evidencing the greater percentage of EPA and DHA in their blood levels had 40% fewer incidences of prostate cancer, than those with low percentages. Researchers further correlated statistics to include age, height, social status and anti-inflammatory drug users. The results were the same.
Conclusion of New Zealand Study: Researchers hypothesize fish oils may serve to prevent progress of prostate cancer.
Will Fish Oil Supplements Cause Prostate Cancer?
Natural medicine is preferable over pharmaceutical drugs. Mainstream drugs target the symptoms, without treating the root cause. Numerous studies have linked fish oil supplements to decreased incidences of prostate cancer. Fish oil contains high concentrations of omega-3 fatty-acids EPA and DHA.
The body recognizes these omega-3 fatty-acids as a "mirror" component of what it manufactures. Alternatively, prescription drugs are recognized as invaders. Referring to studies from National Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical and many prominent clinical trials, it makes sense to get proactive to lower and prevent the risk of prostate cancer with fish oil supplements.
Researchers have also concluded that fish oil significantly reduces the risk of metastatic cancer.
Final Conclusion: There appears scant evidence to support a theory that fish oil supplements cause prostate cancer.