I am sure by now many of you have heard about a study potentially linking Omega 3 fish oil to an increased risk of prostate cancer. This recent claim may be causing many of you some concern about your personal health and questioning exactly what you need to do.
First, despite these claims, I still continue to recommend the use of Omega 3 Fish Oils as their beneficial effects are well documented as to the prevention of cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, and improved cognitive functioning. The overwhelming majority of medical research does not demonstrate any relationship to increased risk to prostate cancer. There are however studies that do indicate that Omega 3 Fish Oil prevents cancer.
• A 2010 meta-analysis of fish consumption and prostate cancer reported no overall relationship.
• Two studies from 2001-2002 reported higher fish intake was associated with lower risk for prostate cancer and death.
• A 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association and a separate 2012 study found that higher fish oil intake predicted better survival for men who already had prostate cancer.
• The rate of prostate cancer in the US is roughly 10 times higher than in Japan, where fish oil consumption is 8 times higher.
• The same team behind the most recent report linking prostate cancer to fish oil concluded in 2011 that the use of fish oil supplements was not associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer.
Here are some of the issues with this recent study:
• The most recent study does not specifically link taking fish oil supplements to prostate cancer. Instead it focuses on Omega-3 levels in the blood, which can be affected by other factors like diet, metabolism and genetics.
• These studies do not reveal a direct cause and effect, only an association. These are very different. It’s possible, for example, that carcinogens in the fish these particular subjects ate increased their prostate cancer risk.
• The differences in fish oil levels between groups in the study were very small, ranging from 3.62% in the control group to 3.67% in the low-grade cancer group to 3.74% in the high-grade group. Although statistically significant, these levels are essentially within normal variation.
Here is the bottom line. We know definitively that higher Omega 3 levels are associated with lower rates of death. Additionally, higher Omega 3 levels are associated with slower rates of cellular aging. Currently, the risk/benefit ratio analysis for the use of Omega 3 Fish Oil overall is highly favorable.
As with many stories in the media, dramatization of the story and misguided interpretation leads to confusion and can potentially jeopardize your personal health. I will always strive to deliver clear and accurate information. If you are on Omega 3 Fish Oil, I still recommend the use of Omega 3 Fish Oil to improve your overall health profile.