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Does consumption of fish or fish oil supplements like EndurOmega increase prostate cancer risk?

 

Absolutely not, though the mainstream media would have us believe otherwise, with the blitz of alarming headlines and news stories regarding study results published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute July 2013 issue [1]. We remain convinced that consuming omega-3 fatty acids benefits overall health, including prostate health, and an overwhelming body of research over the years confirms it.

The media frenzy concerning fish and fish oil supplementation was sparked by the SELECT study (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial), which claims a link between higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood - specifically DHA, EPA, and DPA (all found in EndurOmega) - and an increased risk of prostate cancer

However, the following flaws in the study invalidate the findings:

1) The SELECT study was designed to review vitamin E and selenium intake - not fish oil - on prostate cancer risk.

2) This study did not monitor whether the male subjects ate fish or took fish oil supplements. It is not possible to link blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer if there is no data to confirm how much fish or fish oil supplements, if any, were consumed.

3) The results were based solely on only one blood sample, taken very early in the study, to check for fatty acid levels in the blood. This particular test only indicates what a person ate over the course of a few hours; it has no bearing on medium-to-long-term consumption and certainly not over a six-year period as was the case with this study. Because blood levels of fatty acids rapidly change with short-term dietary alterations, it's misleading to flat-out wrong to link plasma omega-3 levels from a single blood test with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

4) Even if the results of this single blood test are taken into account, the differences are too minuscule to draw any meaningful conclusions. The men who had omega-3 blood levels of 4.48% were less likely to have prostate cancer, while those with a fractional 0.18% increase (4.66%) had astronomically higher rates - 44% greater risk of low-grade prostate cancer and a 71% increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Dr. Peter Bongiorno states, "The authors made a terrific leap by suggesting that this infinitesimally small number was enough to somehow promote cancer. The article also gave no information about how the fish oils could have possibly caused the cancer." [2]

5) Other factors that contribute to cancer were never taken into account! Over 50% of the men in the study smoked, nearly 65% consumed alcohol regularly, and a whopping 80% were obese. How these vitally important factors could be overlooked or disregarded is astonishing.

Omega-3 fatty acids BENEFIT prostate health!

One study that included nearly 50,000 men showed that increased levels of EPA and DHA - the two fatty acids found primarily in fish and fish oil supplements - was correlated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer [3].

A study from Harvard that included more than 293,000 men concluded that a significantly lower rate of fatal prostate cancer was associated with increased omega-3 fatty acid intake [4].

A 2010 meta-analysis of over 15,000 men found a 63% reduction in prostate cancer death rates in those with higher fish consumption [5].

A study involving 6,300 Swedish men over a 30-year period showed that those who didn't eat fish had a 200% - 300% higher rate of prostate cancer as compared to the men who consumed large amounts of fish [6].

Summary

After evaluating this particular study and how the results were obtained, it is simply not rational to implicate omega-3's as being a cause for prostate cancer, especially given the abundance of existing and undeniably more credible research showing that omega-3's positively influence prostate health. We adamantly don't believe the misleading and inaccurate media hype and neither should you. The bottom line is that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements (EndurOmega) benefit numerous areas of overall health, including prostate health.

Suggested additional reading:

Do Fatty Acids Really Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer?
Evaluating the results of the recent report from the SELECT Trial

(www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp? edition=1§ion=3&article=446)

REFERENCES:

[1] Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, et al. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Jul 10 2013.

[2] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inner-source/201308/do-fish-and-fish-oils-cause-prostate-cancer

[3] Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Michaud DS, et al. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. The American journal of clinical nutrition. Jul 2004;80(1):204-216.

[4] Bosire C, Stampfer MJ, Subar AF, et al. Index-based dietary patterns and the risk of prostate cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health study. American journal of epidemiology. Mar 15 2013;177(6):504-513.

[5] Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA. Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition. Nov 2010;92 (5):1223-1233.

[6] Terry P et al. Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer. Lancet 2001; 357: 1764-6


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