Worried about taking fish oil and increasing your risk of prostate cancer? No worries, the opposite is true! In and around the same period the media headlines screamed, “prostate cancer and fish oil,” two other studies concluded the opposite finding.
How the widely Heralded Fish Oil Study was Flawed
Researchers did not use a placebo to compare fish oil, instead they used a healthy placebo called olive oil. While olive oil is healthy, it is not quite up to par with the benefits of fish oil.
This study was performed on already sick people on medications. More than 12,500 high risk cardiovascular patients. The researchers switched the primary endpoint halfway through the trial–not exactly an ethical practice. In addition, this high risk group who failed to die off in droves were given just 1 gram of fish oil per day, which is low for this purpose. Patients with the largest benefit in high risk cardiovascular disease typically receive fish oil in amounts from 100 to 400% higher levels than one gram. So don’t be fooled by the hype or the headlines. Keep on taking your omega-3, continue reading to find out why.
So-called Analysis is Misleading
The research in question was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the analysis of a small subgroup of the overall study population was isolated to associate high levels of fish oil and an increase in prostate cancer risk.
A headline reported in various media outlets created doubt in the minds of people using fish oil. The reporting was interpreted poorly in a fashion that approached absurdity.
The flaws in this analysis continue…failure to check all patients blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids beyond base line do not control for actual fish oil ingestion beyond initial short term monitoring.
No controls were accounted for to ascertain the quality or the amount of fish oil actually consumed by those people in the trial.
To the contrary of the flawed fish oil study, a recent analysis of omega-3 consumption and prostate cancer (Szymanski 2010) reported a large reduction in late stage or fatal prostate cancer among cohort studies. In addition, a recent meta-analysis (Zheng 2013) involving 16 independent cohort studies showed a significant inverse relationship between EPA + DHA levels and risk of breast cancer.
In fact, research has been shown that DHA and EPA (from omega-3 fatty acids) decrease proliferation and increase cell death in prostate cancer cells.
How Fish Oil Works
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil contribute to reduced inflammatory signaling by cytokines. These fatty acids directly trigger factors that resolve inflammation and promote early healing. Omega-3 fatty acids trigger enzymes that reduce attrition of telomeres–that is they reduce the speed of our aging clock. This anti-aging benefit is the #1 reason why I take some form of omega-3 fatty acids.
Human clinical trials have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, lung diseases, neurodegenerative conditions, and cancer. For the management of hair loss, taking some form of omega-3 fatty acids is essential to keep prostaglandin D2 in check.
If you prefer a form of omega-3 fatty acids that is easier to digest, consider trying krill oil.