Omega-3 linked to 70 percent increase in prostate cancer risk

July 11, 2013 at 11:19 PM
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SEATTLE, July 11 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they replicated a 2011 study that found a link between high blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and higher prostate cancer risk.

Senior author Alan Kristal, a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Public Health Sciences Division, said the latest findings indicate that high concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA -- the three anti-inflammatory fatty acids from fatty fish and fish-oil supplements -- are associated with a 71 percent increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

The study, published in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also found a 44 percent increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer and an overall 43 percent increase in risk for all prostate cancers.

A 2011 study published by the same Fred Hutchinson team reported a similar link between high blood concentrations of DHA and a more than doubling of the risk for developing high-grade prostate cancer. This latest study also confirms results from a large European study, Kristal said.

"The consistency of these findings suggests that these fatty acids are involved in prostate tumorigenesis and recommendations to increase long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake, in particular through supplementation, should consider its potential risks," the study authors wrote in the paper.

Kristal said the findings in both studies were surprising because omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have a host of positive health effects based on their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation plays a role in the development and growth of many cancers, Kristal said.

It is unclear why high levels of omega-3 fatty acids would increase prostate cancer risk, but the replication of this finding in two large studies indicates the need for further research.

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