Consuming large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids may not be right for everyone: Researchers have observed a link between the intake of omega-3 —found in fish-oil supplements and fresh tuna, salmon, and trout–and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Scientists found a strong association between high consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and a 43 percent increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study in the journal of the National Cancer Institute. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids are also connected to a 71 percent increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
This isn’t a definitive warning for men to steer clear of fish oil, but the findings are significant enough to warrant discussion. The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil and omega-3s have been touted to aid in everything from depression to asthma to autoimmune diseases. Even the American Heart Association recommends fish oil or fatty fish as often as twice per week, based on evidence that it decreases triglyceride levels and the risk of abnormal heartbeats.
What’s the Connection?
Though the new study supports findings from earlier research that links prostate cancer risk and omega-3s, we need more research to uncover exactly why the two are connected. It’s possible that higher levels of omega-3s can actually damage a man’s DNA in a way that encourages prostate cancer tumor growth.
Dietary supplements come in and out of favor with the latest research, magazine articles and healthcare trends, which can make it difficult to decipher what helps and what hurts. For many, a balanced diet may be the best course of action.
Start by talking with your doctor, who can provide a comprehensive perspective on the latest research, your individual health, and your risk levels related to various diseases. If you’re at risk for heart disease, maybe fish oil can help. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, perhaps you should avoid it. For most, a balanced diet provides what the body needs and supplements may be unnecessary.