Omega 3 and cancer the facts

Omega-3 supplements linked to prostate cancer” (Fox News) “Omega-3 supplements could raise prostate risk” (Telegraph)

“Fish oil supplements linked to prostate cancer” (Health News) “Men who take omega-3 supplements at 71 percent higher risk of prostate cancer” (NY Daily News) “Omega-3 supplements may trigger prostate cancer” (Nursing Times) “Hold the salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids linked to higher risk of cancer” (CNN)

The headlines that appeared are familar to everyone , they would be funny due to the idiocy of them if the subject matter and consequences were not so serious.

We all know the way scientific studies are carried out so the assumption would be that researchers gave one group omega3 fish oil supplements, another group placebos.The group that were given the omega3 fish oil supplements were the ones to develop prostate cancer.

That was not the case in fact it couldnt be further from the truth

It is astounding bearing in mind the reporting by the worlds media however the plain and simple fact is no fish oil supplements — or any other kind of supplements, for that matter — were given in this study. This study looked at blood levels of long-chain fatty acids such as those found in fish (EPA and DHA). And even there, the association between higher blood levels and prostate cancer was only found for DHA. No association was found between EPA and prostate cancer, nor between prostate cancer and ALA (the omega-3 found in flax and chia).

The study was as many these days an observational one (based on nested data from participants in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial from 1994-2003). There was no experiment, just an observation about what things were found together in this particular population

When you look at the whole picture it does appear that DHA and NOT EPA is responsible – on looking at the individual fatty acids EPA and DHA are very diiferent yet the media chose to lump them together. TakeOmega3 / TO3 is unique amongst omega3 products in that it has high levels of EPA and very low levels DHA .Recent capsule analysis showed each capsule contained 810mg EPA and 120mgDHA . So even taking multiple capsules of T03 it means minimum levels of DHA. Other brands available tend to be high in DHA with minimum levels EPA.

The study however came up with even more contraversial data which the worlds media chose to ignore – the study participents who had the highest levels of trans fats in their blood had the lowest risk of prostate cancer.

We all know that people are recommended to eat fish and avoid foods that are high in trans fats – yet based on the study data ….

Is there an explanation for high levels of DHA in the blood amongst the group at most risk of prostate cancer ?

DHA levels in the blood do not necessarily co relate with dietary intake. The men with the higher levels of DHA weren’t necessarily eating more fish, they werent taking omega 3 supplements (because the researchers said as much). Though DHA levels in the blood go up when you you take omega3 , they can also go up for other reasons, ie a low fat diet

The “highest levels of serum DHA” were based on percentage values, not absolute values. percentage-based measurements can be at times misleading. A higher percentage of DHA might mean a lower percentage of something that the researchers didn’t investigate. (They only looked at eight fatty acids.) Dr Ching Kuang Chow wtote in American Journal of Nutrition “Expressing plasma phospholipid fatty acid composition as a percentage of the total is meaningful only when the total fatty acid content is identical for all subjects,”

A really really important point is thar correlation is not causation – this was an observational study and was not randomized or controlled. What also wasnt highlighted was the following

1. 53 percent of the subjects with prostate cancer were smokers.

2. 64 percent of the cancer subjects regularly consumed alcohol.

3. 30 percent of the cancer subjects had at least one first-degree relative with prostate cancer.

4. 80 percent of the cancer subjects were overweight or obese.

Interestingly, the findings of this study are extremely similar to a previously published article by the same authors in 2011.[2] Reporting their findings from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, the group published data showing DHA to be significantly and positively associated with the risk of high-grade prostate cancer whilst EPA was not.Brasky et al., Serum Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial Am J Epidemiol. 2011 173:1429-39
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Research on the function of EPA and DHA, both together and as individual fatty acids, has progressed significantly in the last couple of decades. Indeed,to just refer to them as omega3 is seriously flawed and is no longer viable. Because DHA is the most unstable of the long-chain omega-3s, the products of lipid peroxidation derived from DHA supplementation may actually counteract the benefits normally attributed to omega-3. Conversley with specific regards to EPA , which T03 is uniquely high in there are a number of ongoing studies which show the chemo protective properties of EPA and its viability in both cancer prevention and treatment .

Related posts:

  1. Prostate Cancer – Omega3 fish oil benefits offers protection against advanced prostate cancer
  2. Omega 3 and Prostate Cancer
  3. Omega 3 fish oil supplementation slows growth of prostate cancer cells
  4. Omega 3 and Kidney Cancer
  5. Omega-3 fish oil As Possible Therapeutic Agent In Breast & Prostate Cancers

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