You think fish protects against prostate cancer? – study

You think fish protects against prostate cancer? –

It does – only some varieties though.

How its prepared is key.


Main points of the study:

  • A group of 1,096 controls, 717 localized and 1,140 advanced cases from the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study, a multiethnic study.
  • This study reports evidence that high intake of white lean fish, particularly when cooked at high temperatures with surface browning, may be a relevant risk factor for prostate cancer (CaP).
  • High white fish intake was associated with a moderate increased risk of advanced CaP. The association seemed to be restricted to men who consumed fish cooked using high-temperatures methods and well or very well done.
  • High intake of dark fish protective with both localized and advanced PCA risk, specifically among African American men.
  • Among all men combined, a strong inverse association for advanced PCA  was observed among men who consumed dark fish just done and used low-temperature methods with or without surface browning.
  • Consumption of well-done dark fish cooked at high temperature seems to lose its protective effects, especially for consumers of pan-fried fish.
  • High intake of deep-fried fish (e.g., fish sticks and fish sandwiches), which was queried separately, was associated with risk of PCA only among Hispanic men with advanced disease. Hispanic and African American controls usually consumed well-done or very well-done fish.
  • African American men had the highest consumption of deep-fried fish, followed by Hispanic men, with very few non-Hispanic White men reporting high consumption of deep-fried fish.
  • Dark fish = salmon, mackerel, catfish, trout, herring, or sardines
  • White Fish = Flounder, halibut, snapper, bass, cod, or sole

– Joshi et al. 2012


Doggy bag and actionable points

Well, I guess the first thing is to take it easy on the fish and chips.  God knows I have had my share of those growing up in New York City.

Dark fish offers much more protection against CaP ONLY when cooked in low temperature and best when steamed or boiled. White fish is OK but not as good as Dark fish.  One dark fish that’s high in mercury is mackerel (king).

High mercury exposure from food has not conclusively been linked to higher risk of prostate cancer. However, it ‘s prudent for men to reduce their toxic environmental load if minimizing the development or progression of CaP is of interest.

African American men, in particular should pay attention to avoiding fried and overcooked fish since they are at higher risk of aggressive and deadly prostate cancer.

Bottom line: Eat mostly dark fish, low in mercury, cook in low temperature (especially white fish), with little to no browning.




Joshi AD, John EM, Koo J, Ingles SA, Stern MC. Fish intake, cooking practices, and risk of prostate cancer: results from a multi-ethnic case-control study. Cancer Causes Control. 2012 Mar;23(3):405-20. doi: 10.1007/s10552-011-9889-2.


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