After years of encouraging patients to take fish oil supplements and eat fatty fish for heart health and cholesterol, a 2013 study has doctors wondering if it causes prostate cancer.
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and reported by the American Cancer Society
, measured levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood of men over 50 from the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada. Diet was not studied.
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Men with the highest blood levels of omega-3 were found to have a 43 percent higher chance of developing prostate cancer and a 71 percent higher chance of developing highly aggressive prostate cancer, which can be fatal.
While a link has been shown, scientists like Dr. Scott David from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital are quick to point out that cause and effect has not yet been proven. Many variables were not studied or ruled out by the research, and some of those could very well play a role in how prostate cancer is contracted. “What’s also unknown is whether the type of fish oil consumed has an impact," David told Fox News
The study did not take into account the form in which the men ingested the fish oil, so it isn’t clear whether supplements increase prostate cancer risk on their own.
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Because of the study’s findings, though, author Theodore Brasky of Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center told HealthDay men should think about moderating their intake of fatty fish and fish oil
supplements. Newer research has shown that fish oil isn’t as beneficial for heart disease as had been thought.
David looks at men’s individual risks, including age, obesity, ethnic background, and family history before deciding whether they should moderate intake of fish oil.
Despite the study, Marji MuCullough from the American Cancer Society stressed that fatty fish is still a good, healthy alternative to beef, pork, and lamb. “Moderation and variety are key to a healthy diet,” she said.
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