Omega 3 fatty acids and Prostate Cancer



The findings of a new review suggest that dietary omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil fight prostate cancer on several levels. Although this is not the first study to show a positive relationship between fish oil and the growth and progression of prostate cancer, it does, according to the authors, “underscore the potential of fish oil in modulating the clinical course of human prostate cancer through the immune system.”
Immunotherapy, or utilization of the immune system to repair, enhance, or stimulate the body’s natural immune responses to fight cancer, is a rapidly growing field of research. In addressing the challenge of prostate cancer, scientists have developed or are developingvarious immunotherapeutic approaches(e.g., Provenge, checkpoint therapies). However, natural substances also may have potential, includingomega-3 fatty acids.

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How can omega-3 fatty acids fight prostate cancer?
In a recentUniversity of California study, a research team explored the idea that a fish oil-based diet would inhibit infiltration of immune system cells called tumor-associated macrophages, which play a significant role in the development of prostate cancer. They tested their hypothesis using mice in whom prostate cancer tumors were grown. Half the mice were fed a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) and the other half were given omega-6 fatty acids (corn oil).
Tumor volumes were significant smaller in the mice fed the fish oil diet. The animals fed fish oil had lower levels of factors associated with cancer growth and progression, including markers for M1 and M2 macrophages, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, interleukin-10, and the chemokine CCL-2. When the team conducted in vitro experiments, the findings were similar.
The authors concluded that their findings highlight the “potential of fish oil in modulating the clinical course of human prostate cancer through the immune system.” Although further studies are needed to better identify the role of fish oil in inhibiting factors involved in prostate cancer, now is the time to include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, given the findings of this study andprevious researchshowing a lower risk of prostate cancer associated with greater intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.

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Good sources of dietary omega-3 fatty acids include wild salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel as well ashigh quality fish oil supplements. It’s important to choose fish and supplements from unpolluted sources. If you don’t regularly eat fish two to three times a week, you should consider an omega-3 supplement, which also should be made from unpolluted sources and be free of unnecessary additives.

Omega 3 rich foods and Supplements; The difference:
The omega-3 fats in fish have been linked to all sorts of health benefits, including protection against prostate cancer. Recently though researchers have found a link between high levels of omega-3 fats in the blood and prostate cancer.
The latest report comes from researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. Their case-control study compared blood samples from 834 men diagnosed with prostate cancer with samples from 1,393 men who didn’t have the disease. The blood samples had been collected as part of the SELECT trial designed to find out if taking selenium or vitamin E could prevent men from developing prostate cancer. (Selenium had no effect and vitamin E was associated with an increase in risk.)
The researchers tested the samples for their omega-3 content. Men whose blood samples were in the top 25% of omega-3 fat content were 43% more likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer than men whose blood samples were in the lowest 25% of omega-3 content. The finding were published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute .
The results didn’t differ much when the three different types of omega-3 fats found in fish and fish oil—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)—were analyzed separately.

In May of this year, Italian researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that omega-3 fatty acid supplements did nothing to reduce heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from heart disease in people with risk factors for heart disease.

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Could it be fish oil and not fish that’s to blame?

Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects, and that’s part of the reason they have been seen as dietary good guys and possibly having an anticancer effect. Why they might have a dark side that increases prostate cancer risk is simple enough
One important point to keep in mind, though, is that there may be a difference between eating the main thing and taking fish-oil supplements. Over and over again, nutrition research has shown that diets full of food and drink that supply vitamins, minerals, and healthful fats are correlated with good health, whereas studies of supplements that try to isolate what are believed to be the healthful constituents of the food have consistently been disappointing.

Just to be clear: this latest study correlated blood levels of omega-3 fats to prostate cancer. It wasn’t able to prove that omega-3 fats cause prostate cancer, nor did it go into how those blood levels came about and whether men with high blood levels were big fish eaters, took fish-oil supplements, or both.
One should consider eating fish and other seafood as a healthier strategy as opposed to supplements and isolates. If we could absolutely, positively say that the benefits of eating seafood comes entirely from omega-3 fats, then taking fish oil pills would be an alternative to eating fish. But it’s more than likely that you need the entire orchestra of fish fats, vitamins, minerals, and supporting molecules, rather than the lone notes of EPA and DHA.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may be good for the heart, but you can obtain enough from your diet. Supplements are never better options than a whole meal.
A healthy diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish (such as mackerel). Babies, children and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to have children should have no more than two portions of oily fish a week. Those not in these groups can eat up to four portions a week. This maximum level is recommended to avoid overexposure to marine pollutants.


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