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Fish Oil & Prostate Cancer: Facts or Fiction?

11th July 2013

The news today is full of headlines about fish, fish oil supplements, and an increased risk of prostate cancer. We'd like to look at some of the issues.

Firstly this study contradicts many other studies.  And the data used is actually from a study relating to vitamin E, selenium and cancer prevention, it was not in fact centred on omega oils!

And let's always remember that correlation does not equal causation, epidemiological studies don’t mean causation, and "risk" is not a real world scenario.

Researchers aren't even clear if it is dietary fish or supplement fish oils that "MAY" cause higher plasma levels of EPA and DHA in some men with different types prostate cancer... how can that be?  Surely we need to know which it is?

But wait, apparently they are clear that differences in omega acid blood profiles occur even when people consume the same amount of these oils.  Confused yet? We certainly are.

Surely, the reasons for these differences in blood profiles need to be fully investigated before telling the whole world to stop eating fish more than twice a week on the back of a small inconclusive study that was in fact looking at something else? 

And surely we must remember that the Innuits and other cultures who eat a lot of fish have an incredibly low incidence of prostate cancer?  These are facts of course, not studies with multiple variables.

What about omega 6 fats, were these also studied and compared? What if these men were consuming in fact high levels of processed plant fats alongside the animal fats?

And yet even within all this total confusion, lead researcher Alan Kristal commented “We’ve shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful". That's strange, earlier we learned that researchers werent clear if it was diet or supplement related?  Is there an agenda here we must ask?

Additionally it is perfectly plausible, that these men have changed their lifestyle on sadly contracting prostate cancer, perhaps this could account for higher blood levels.  It is typical for lifestyle to change and improve as a result of such a diagnosis.  Has their intake in fact increased after diagnosis?

Just for the sake of argument, let's say they are talking about supplements… are these supplements packed with toxic additives? What is the quality like?  How much are they taking? Of course we don't know, because the researchers certainly don't ask these sorts of questions in these sorts of studies.  But again, remember, the researchers have no idea what they are even looking at here i.e. is it diet, or supplements.

Time and time again we see small, insignicant studies like this one taken out of context by those with an agenda; or even just distored ever so slightly, then the media are off and running with tomorrows fish and chip paper.  Yet the bigger picture is that fish in the diet has been proven to improve health time and time again. And studies of the healthiest people in the world are always clear on this issue.

So there are far too many questions to run for the hills on fish oil! We do of course understand why these flippant headlines cause concern and more study would be interesting, in particular to understand why those with cancer convert omega oils differently.  There will certainly be further comment on this from others in our industry, and we will add to this piece if relevant.

In the meantime, do eat oily fish several times a week and enjoy it! And if this is undesirable, there is nothing to worry about when you choose a high quality fish oil supplement.  We of course supply an additive free fish oil. But fresh fish in the diet is always best if you can.

You might also be interested in the Fermented Cod Liver Oil we supply; this is an incredible supplement supplied primarily for the vitamins A and D in a natural form, but the omega oil content is also excellent.  This nothing like any other fish supplement in the market having been fermented slowly using tradiitonal methods but with modern manufacturing standards.

And here is the piece from leading natural health organisation the Alliance for Natural Health on the same issue -


"Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial.”Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Inuit are protected against prostate cancer
Dewailly E, Mulvad G, Sloth Pedersen H, Hansen JC, Behrendt N, Hart Hansen. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Sep;12(9):926-7

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