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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Confirms Link between Omega 3 and Prostate Cancer

The "latest findings indicate that high concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA – the three anti-inflammatory and metabolically related fatty acids derived from fatty fish and fish-oil supplements – are associated with a 71 percent increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The study also found a 44 percent increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer and an overall 43 percent increase in risk for all prostate cancers." This was a followup study to confirm a 2011 study made by the same research group. In the 2011 study, they found that trans-fatty acids were associated with "had a 50 percent reduction in the risk of high-grade prostate cancer." Trans fatty acids are in general thought of as harmful for your heart as seen in this Mayo Clinic article. The FHCRC's findings are completely opposite of what is commonly thought of inflammation and cancer. In general, omega 3 is associated as a natural anti-inflammatory food and omega 6  & trans fats are associated with inflammation and linked to cancer. Among the 3,400 men in the 2011 study, only a few actually took fish oil supplements. A fact that I found interesting was that there were actually 19,000 men in the study and they narrowed the study of data to the 3,400.

“We’ve shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful,” said Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H.

In this recent study, they "have confirmed that marine omega-3 fatty acids play a role in prostate cancer occurrence" according to Theodore Brasky, Ph.D.. Brasky theorizes that omega 3 becomes a carcinogen or it acts as an immunosuppresant. This same research group also states that vitamin E is associated with an increased prostate cancer incidence months earlier. These studies by design offer no explanation to the mechanism with omega 3 fatty acids and prostate cancer other than the theory of one of the researchers. They take a group that already has a high risk of prostate cancer and then use the same participants to look for elevated levels of omega 3 in the blood of prostate cancer patients leading them to conclude that omega 3 must also cause prostate cancer just like vitamin E. I feel that they should have started with a new randomly selected sample group. It sounds unlikely that a fatty acid acts to target and suppress immune cells. It is more like a building block than an active catalyst.

Omega 3 has been subject to a lot of research recently with the increased popularity of use. Another study seems to doubt the heart benefits of Omega 3 also. They also seem to put doubts on the benefits of omega 3 and the brain such as in Alzheimer's. In the case with the omega 3 benefits with the brain, I believe that omega 3 probably has a protective effect and it is not a disease reversing medication so studying subjects who are already 60 years old has very little point to it. This study included subjects studied for as little as 6 months which I do not believe has a lot of value. I am not by any means an expert but these flaws will make me question their conclusions. To keep an open mind, I am guessing that there might be some health side effects to the processing of the omega 3 supplements such as some byproduct in manufacturing. Also, Joseph Gonzalez, a dietitian, states,“when you take one nutrient out and synthesize it chemically, it just doesn’t seem to work the same as the natural food.” In studies with the Japanese centenarians, their diets are rich in fish oils with lower prevalance of prostate cancer by 80% in one study. The 80% number might be an anomaly but even a 40% in a larger well designed long term study would be meaningful. This sample is probably more meaningful when these Japanese probably had the same diet for their entire 100 year lifespan. Data mining can often lead to incorrect conclusions and lead to correlations when there is none. I will be looking forward to future research and examining their methods of leading to the conclusions closely.

ChiroWorks Care Center
Anthony Tsai, D.C.
Chiropractor in San Jose, CA
Graston Technique Certified
FAKTR Certified

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational purposes only and an opinion for specific individualized circumstances. It is not a prescription for therapy or diagnosis for you. All opinions expressed and any referenced articles are solely those of the particular author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Anthony Tsai, Graston Technique®, its employees, providers or affiliates. Any opinions of the author on the site are or have been rendered based on scientific facts and/or anecdotal evidence, under certain conditions, and subject to certain assumptions, and may not and should not be used or relied upon for any other purpose, including but not limited to for use in or in connection with any legal proceeding. If there is any issue with the content or images on this blog, contact us an we will remove it immediately. Please refer to for more information.



Unknown said…
In my opinion, I felt that the researchers in this study—as well as others they reported on--had a negative bias against nutritional supplements. This wasn’t a double-blind, placebo controlled trial about omega-3s—in fact, we don’t even know if the participants in this study took omega-3s. Instead, the researchers drew a conclusion based on a.2% difference in omega-3s—one that can show association, but not causation.

- James from Personal Trainers

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