When we hear the word Omega 3, oily fish, and healthy fats spring to mind. They promote a range of fantastic health benefits that have us filling our plates with tuna and salmon.
However, a recent study has suggested that it may increase the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, a customer wrote to me recently worried by this news, and he wanted to know if he should stop fish oil supplementation.
As you know, I not only want to help you fight against prostate cancer and the uncomfortable symptoms of BPH but provide educative and helpful answers to your questions.
Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the prostate. It is the second most common cancer found in men after skin cancer.
In the United States, approximately 1 of 7 men is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Many factors can increase your risk but is fish oil one of them? Let’s find whether or not this study stands up to scrutiny.
The link between Omega 3 and Prostate Cancer
The study was conducted by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Ohio State University, who set out to look at the correlation between Omega 3 levels and the risk of prostate cancer.
Through a case-control study, comparing blood samples from 834 men diagnosed with prostate cancer with those from 1,393 men not diagnosed with the disease, the study found that there was an increased risk of prostate cancer among men with high blood concentrations of Omega 3 fats, resulting in the following:
- 44% increased the risk of low-grade prostate cancer
- 71% increased the risk of high-grade prostate cancer
- 43% increased the risk of total prostate cancer
But don’t panic!
Although the results of this study may have you throwing away your fish oil capsules, it should be noted that there are several inconsistencies.
6 Reasons this study is flawed
1) Fish is your friend
One study I found suggested that a higher intake of fish had been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Furthermore, the researchers went on to suggest that the more Omega 3 that individuals take, the better the survival rate for men who already had prostate cancer.
If this wasn’t enough to get reaching for your morning kipper, research also showed that increased levels of fish intake reduced the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. So there is considerable evidence favoring an increase in fish intake for prostate cancer risk reduction.
2) Slow cognitive decline
Further studies focus specifically on fish consumption and prostate cancer mortality rates, showing that a high fish intake resulted in a significant reduction of mortality.
It also highlighted evidence that by increasing your Omega 3 intake, you can slow age-related cognitive decline. This will help you keep memory and brain function up to speed and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers and dementia.
So not only does Omega 3 reduce the risk of prostate cancer, it can help you remember the important stuff…like where you left your car keys!
Fatty acids serve as precursors for a variety of anti-inflammatory functions. In other words, the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
In summary, this study had concerns about the experimental design of the study in question and disagreed with some of the authors’ conclusions, urging readers to interpret the data with caution.
4) Insufficient data
The overall result of the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed an insignificant difference of 0.23% in omega-3 levels between the no cancer group and the high-grade cancer group.
This conclusion is biologically irrelevant and offers little evidence that Omega 3 can increase the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, and as mentioned earlier, many studies have reported that increased fish consumption is linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
5) International diets
Many countries with high fish intake generally have lower levels of prostate cancer. Take Iceland, for example…they love their fish! A study found that fish oil consumption in later life was not associated with advanced prostate cancer.
Dwelling on this further, another study showed that the incidence of prostate cancer in Japanese people (who typically eat a lot more fish than Americans) are markedly lower than rates in the United States. This reinforces the idea that Omega 3 can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
6) Animal fat
Diet has a massive impact on BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). The western diet, which includes excessive consumption of animal fat, and dairy products can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
The study did not take into account the participant’s diets, and so the results may have been affected.
“Especially in those who ate little fish and did not take fish-oil supplements, eating meat may have confounded the results, and lower meat consumption may be a reason for the observed lower rates of prostate cancer in those with lower plasma phospholipid DHA.”
( LG Cleland )
Is Fish Oil bad for Prostate Cancer?
So…what’s the conclusion?
The research is pretty clear: the overall benefits of fish oil far outweigh the risks. The two essential omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in this omega-3s.
The problem with this study is that it is too simplistic. It does not take into account other important variables which contribute to prostate cancer.
Moreover, the most serious limitation of this study is that it was not a randomized trial and thus cannot prove that the consumption of fish oil supplements or the consumption of fish causes prostate cancer. Plus, the outcome measure is not what would be considered statistically significant.
Dr. Brinton, Director of Atherometabolic Research at Utah Foundation for Biomedical Research and Associate Professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, emphasized that no randomized, controlled clinical trial data point one way or the other. The available dietary intake studies, he said, are observational:
You are just asking people what they ate, so these observational studies are just hypothesis-raising—and there we find heterogeneity between EPA and DHA, while the controlled clinical trial data are inconsistent. The best we can tell is that intake is good— and that’s hypothesis-raising—and we only say there’s a lot of confusion regarding what the levels are trying to tell us.
The truth is that Omega 3 has a whole bunch of health benefits, all of which have been proven in countless studies. They include:
lowering blood pressure
improving metabolic symptoms
reducing the risk of prostate cancer
reducing the risk of dementia
reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
…the list goes on.
Why you should take Krill Oil
The only problem is that a lot of Omega 3 supplements tend to use low quality fish oils. These can become rancid and cause indigestion. Although they might be cheaper, they are less effective.
Krill Oil is, without a doubt, the best and most effective means of getting your dose of Omega 3. It’s more potent, sourced from clean waters, meaning it’s unpolluted and more bioavailable.
If 70% of your fatty acid intake is not from Omega 3, you will suffer from high cholesterol levels, a higher risk of cancer, and even cardiovascular problems down the line. So finding a potent and effectively absorbed source of omega 3 is an integral part of your dietary supplements.
My Wild Antarctic Krill Oil is sourced from pure and unpolluted waters and as a result, does not need any processing, meaning it is Pure, Natural and Virgin– pretty much it’s the best money can buy.
To find out more about my Wild Antarctic Krill Oil, click here.