A new study presented in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the AACR (American Association for Clinical Cancer Research), shows diets high in Omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may decrease the risk of prostate cancer.
This link appears to be most apparent in those individuals with a genetic tendency towards developing the disease.
While there is no one, single cause of prostate cancer, there are several factors that appear to increase the risk of developing it, including diet. In the study, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, looked at 466 men with aggressive prostate cancer and 478 healthy men, assessing their eating habits using a food frequency questionnaire. The men were also screened for a variant of a gene known as COX-2, which helps regulate inflammation in the body. A certain variant of this gene is known to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The study shows that those men who ate dark, fatty fish one to three times per month had a 36 percent lower risk of prostate cancer as compared to those who had zero dark fish consumption. Furthermore, those who ate dark fish at least once a week had a 57% risk reduction. And, those who consumed little to no Omega-3 EPA/DHA and who also carried the specific COX-2 variant, were five times more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer. However, this association was essentially reversed with increasing consumption of Omega-3 EPA/DHA.
"This study adds to the growing research that shows that regular Omega-3 EPA/DHA consumption by men may lower their risk of developing prostate cancer," said Ocean Nutrition Canada's Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Lori Covert. "This is definitely positive news."
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, with an estimated 24,700 men developing the disease in 2008. In the US, the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts and Figures 2008 lists prostate cancer as the most diagnosed cancer in American men. The society also ranks prostate cancer as the second most diagnosed and the sixth leading cause of death by cancer among men globally.
In addition to helping lower the risk of developing prostate cancer, Omega-3 EPA/DHA has proven heart health benefits and may reduce the risk of esophageal and colorectal cancer. Additionally, research suggests Omega-3 EPA/DHA may improve cognitive function and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), contribute to weight loss, reduce symptoms of depression, and lower the risk of stroke.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA), consisting of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Oily fish, including anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and salmon, are the only known natural sources of Omega-3 EPA/DHA. ALA is found in plants, such as flax and chia. It is important to note that only EPA and DHA contribute to the many health benefits associated with Omega-3. While the body can convert ALA into EPA/DHA, it does so very inefficiently (less than one percent), making it impossible to derive Omega-3-related health benefits from plant sources. Furthermore, although Omega-3 EPA/DHA is vital to overall good health, the human body is not able to produce it on its own, so supplementation is required, either by eating oily fish or foods fortified with Omega-3 EPA/DHA, or by taking fish oil supplements. Learn more about the health benefits of Omega-3 EPA/DHA at www.meg-3.com.