Fish Oil and Prostate Cancer─What’s the Connection?

By November 24, 2011 November 27th, 2015 Fish Oil, Supplements, Wellness

Could fish oil reduce prostate cancer risk, in addition to the many other benefits it offers? That was the conclusion drawn in a recent study(1) conducted at UCLA. It was thought a good starting premise, since omega-3 fats have repeatedly been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease and fight inflammation, which is associated with certain cancers.

The researchers found that men who ate a low-fat diet that included omega-3-rich fish oil supplements for 5-6 weeks before having their prostate removed had measurably slower prostate cancer cell growth than men who ate a typical, Western diet, high in omega-6 oils and low in omega-3s.

With the Western diet used, 40% of the calories came from fat, primarily from omega-6 dense corn oil, which closely mirrors the way most Americans eat today. With the low-fat diet, 15% of the calories came from fat, and participants took 5 grams of fish oil per day.

It turned out that the composition of the prostate cells─both healthy and cancerous─reflected heightened levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the men given fish oil. The “treatment” was indeed reaching the targeted organ, given the beneficial changes in the prostate cells fatty acid composition.

Most importantly, the low-fat, fish oil diet reduced the number of rapidly dividing cells in the prostate cancer tissue, thus slowing cancer growth. Why is this so crucial? Because a lower rate of cancer cell growth reduces the odds that the cancer will spread beyond the prostate, where it is much harder to treat.

The study findings─that these simple diet alterations can favorably affect the biology of prostate cancer─were published in the October issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

This is good news indeed, given that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. In fact, nearly 200,000 American males are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.(2) Men everywhere should start seeing fish oil in a whole new light!

1 Cancer Prev Res; 4(12); 1–10. ©2011 AACR
2 Phytomedicine. 2010 Jan;17(1):3-13