Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2 Rebuttals to Omega-3 Fats and Cancer

On Wednesday a new paper reported that higher levels of long-chain omega-3 fats (EPA, DPA, and DHA) in blood are associated with a 43% increased risk of prostate cancer and a 71% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. [1] This built on earlier work by the same group. [2] In a press release, the authors stated:
“We’ve shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful,” said Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., the paper’s senior author …
“[W]e have confirmed that marine omega-3 fatty acids play a role in prostate cancer occurrence,” said corresponding author Theodore Brasky, Ph.D.
They sound confident! Is there anything to it, and should it affect our dietary advice?

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Prostate Cancer and Omega-3 Fats

Ok, so lots of hub-bub about some recent papers implicating N-3 fats and increased prostate cancer risk. Here are two papers which largely cover the same material, which I will refer to here in a bit (serum fatty acids prostate cancer risk1, plasma FAs and prostate cancer2). Luckily, some other folks have entered the fray, so I do not need to re-hash what type of study this is, and one of the main shortcomings of the research: this is correlation, not a demonstration of mechanistic causation. Check out this piece from which breaks all that down in a very accessible way. The main takeaway from this is typical of how the media runs wild with research: Headlines are saying fish oil gives you prostate cancer. As points out, even IF this is the case, the current batch of literature is not anywhere near sufficient to make that statement, just keep that in mind.


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