Fish Oils vs. Prostate Cancer – Fact or fiction?

Recently in the media, there has been news on a research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, in America.

It linked high levels of Omega-3 oils in the blood, to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Since then there has been quite a bit of fuss made about this journal article, with the media blaming fish oil supplements, a common source of Omega-3 oils supplementation, with increasing the risk of prostate cancer.

So does omega-3 cause an increased risk of prostate cancer?

In considering the conclusions of this study, one has to consider the flaws in the study:

  1. This study was not specifically designed to demonstrate a relationship between Omega-3 and prostate cancer.

  2. It was impossible to draw a conclusion of cause and effect, as the level of fish consumption or fish oil supplement was not measured

  3. There was no information on the blood levels of two out of the three types of omega-3 oils

  4. Levels of omega-3 in the blood is not an indicator of long term consumption of fish or fish oil, but mostly affected by a single meal or timing of fish oil intake prior to blood sampling

  5. Finally, perhaps most important of all – looking at the group with a higher incidence of cancer, and the control group, the difference between blood levels of omega-3 was 0.2%. The cancer group had 4.66%, whereas the control group had 4.48%. Such small difference is unlikely to produce any significant difference in effect on the progress of prostate cancer.

In conclusion, this study has not been able to identify a link between omega-3 intake and the risk of prostate cancer.

This study alone does not raise concerns in omega-3 oils and prostate cancer risk, and instead I place emphasis on the positive role omega-3 oils plays in providing heart and blood vessel health, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits.

This just goes to show, the media certainly provides a lot of thought provoking information, though sometimes we just have to take them with a teaspoon of fish oil!