Saturday, July 27, 2013

Does Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer in Men?

My opinion:  I think this study should be taken with a grain of salt.  Until multiple studies are done, there is no way of verifying this type of information.  The same may be said of many other cancer studies.  I can't even imagine how many headlines I've read listing foods that cause and reduce cancer.  Sometimes, I wonder if cancer is over-sensationalized, causing readers to buy into these studies and become unreasonably worried.  For example, many people fear that standing in front of the microwave causes cancer, even though many studies suggest otherwise, unless the door of the appliance is broken.  Though it doesn't take much effort to avoid a microwave for a few minutes as a precaution, it may be a pain to dispense of a plethora of foods from one's diet.  As health readers, we must remind ourselves to look beyond the anxiety and think about what makes a convincing study.  I hope that when researchers try to replicate this, the also try to examine why it occurs.  After all, correlation is not necessarily causation, and even if it is, we must learn of its pathway in order to determine its severity and possible treatments.  Any other thoughts?  Feel free to comment.


Does Fish Oil Increase Prostate Cancer Risk?

Study finds link, but some doctors say there is no cause for alarm.

July 26, 2013
Omega-3s’ anti-inflammatory properties have made fish oil a go-to supplement for runners. Research indicates that the polyunsaturated fats help ease joint pain associated with exercise. Omega-3s' heart-health benefits are also well-established.

But a study published earlier this month in the Journal of National Cancer Institute concluded that omega-3s were linked with an increased risk for prostate cancer in men.

The study analyzed data gathered from 2001 to 2004 as part of a cancer prevention trial called SELECT. It compared that data with subsequent follow-up information on the men’s prostate cancer diagnoses, and found an association between higher levels of long-chain fatty acids, including those found in fish, and greater prostate risk.

The subjects’ dietary habits and supplement use were not collected, meaning the source of the omega-3s are unknown. But the findings leave study author Theodore Brasky, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, concerned.

“Our study is consistent with others of blood measures of long chain omega-3, including similar research that we published in 2011,” he said in an email to Runner’s World Newswire. “There are a few takeaway messages: Men should consider limiting their intake of fatty fish to about two servings per week. We infer that fish oil supplements should be avoided due to their supraphysiological doses of omega-3.”

But Durado Brooks, M.D., M.P.H, director of prostate and colorectal cancer for the American Cancer Society, said that although it sounds scary, the study doesn’t warrant changes in diet or supplement intake for male runners, or any men.

“I don’t think this is the type of study that should encourage men to overhaul their diet,” he said, noting that the research on fatty acids and cancer has been inconsistent and inconclusive for some time. He emphasized that, in a larger context, the study should not be cause for alarm.

“At most [omega-3s] may have an association, but what is that association?” said Brooks.


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