Fish oils working their way back as a good thing for prostate cancer.
A recent study indicates that fish oil combined with a low-fat diet reduced the cell cycle progression (CCP) of patients with prostate cancer. CCP score is a measurement used to figure out the chances of cancer returning after treatment and causing prostate cancer related death. (Galet et al. 2013)
• Researchers looked 48 prostate cancer patients who completed the trial before scheduled for prostatectomy (prostate removal)
• 27 prostate cancer patients consumed a low-fat diet (LFD) with 5 grams of fish oils a day compared to 21 on a typical Western diet (WD)
• Patients on LFD consumed 5g of fish oil supplements a day
• The average duration of patients on either diet was about 30 days.
Researchers measured the following at before and after either diets began:
• Fatty Acid analysis to see if Omega-3 fatty acid levels increased
• Leukotriene B4 (LTB4) • Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic 15(S)-HETE
• CCP was measured ONLY after prostate surgery
Outcome of the study:
• CCP score was significantly lower in the LFD group compared to group on the Western diet (p=0.03 for the scientifically savvy)
• A significant reduced level of Omega-6 and increased level of Omega-3 was observed
• Pro-inflammatory levels of 15(S)-HETE were reduced in the LFD vs. WD
• LTB4 was significantly lowered in the LFD group but not statistically significant when compared compared to the WD group
Explanation – a little technical but important:
LT’s and HETE’s belong to a group of pro-inflammatory chemicals called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are bad for you if you do not want prostate cancer and they come from consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids found in corn and vegetable oil.
By the way vegetable oils should not be used for cooking as it is pro-inflammatory and harmful. Because the word vegetable is included in to describe the oil source DOES NOT mean it’s good for you. Just making sure here.
The typical Western diet is too high in Omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. corn oil) and too low in Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. fish oil).
So, Omega-6 fatty acids is bad, pro-inflammatory and promote prostate cancer while Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and protective against prostate cancer.
My Take on This
The irresponsibility of the media and perhaps the Journal of National Cancer Institute (JNCI) for publishing this rubbish and highly flawed paper suggesting fish oils cause aggressive prostate cancer has caused many men from discontinuing the consumption of this beneficial and protective substance.
Meanwhile, the abundance of research indicating the protective qualities of fish have been ignored:
• Researchers investigated the effect of dietary fatty fish intake among 6,272 Swedish men who were followed for 30 years. Results showed that men who ate no fish had a two- to three-fold increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who consumed large amounts of fish in their diet.
• Data from the Physician’s Health Study, a study spanning 22 years, found that fish consumption (≥5 times per week) reduced the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 36%.
• A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health that involved 47,882 men over twelve years found that eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer but had an even greater impact on the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. For each additional 500 mg of marine fat consumed, the risk of metastatic disease decreased by 24%.
• In one of the best-designed studies, researchers in New Zealand examined the relationship between prostate cancer risk and EPA+ DHA in red blood cells (a more reflective marker for long-term omega-3 fatty acid intake). Higher levels of EPA+DHA were associated with a 40% reduced risk of prostate cancer.
• In a study of 47,866 US men aged 40-75 years with no cancer history in 1986 who were followed for 14 years EPA+DHA intake at the highest levels was associated with a 26% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
Doggy Bag Message
Don’t’ make health decisions based on sound bytes and headlines. Some examples of misleading headlines included back in July of this year when the questionable fish oil paper was published included:
”Fish oil may raise prostate cancer risk, study confirms” -NBC News ”Taking Omega 3 supplements may increase the risk of prostate cancer” -Daily Mail ”Men might want to shun fish oils, study shows” -Seattle Times
Develop a good relationship with a trustworthy health practitioner that stays on top of things – this can be priceless. Some good websites require a small fee to join and if you are a big dietary supplement user it may be worth it.
Council for Responsible Nutrition – no fee required
* Lastly, continue to eat fresh, high quality fish and consume good fish oil supplements. Many of my patients take Omega Avail Ultra with Vitamin D3 (another important nutrient) but a few other brands are good too. Here’s an XY Wellness blog post on this topic.
Galet C, Gollapudi K, Stepanian S, Byrd JB, Henning SM, Grogan T, Elashoff D, Heber D, Said JW, Cohen P, Aronson WJ. Effect of a Low-fat Fish Oil Diet on Pro-inflammatory Eicosanoids and Cell Cycle Progression Score in Men Undergoing Radical Prostatectomy. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013 Oct 29.
Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, et al. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT Trial. J National Cancer Inst Online. July 10, 2013 doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt174.
Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA. Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1223-33.
Terry P, Lichtenstein P, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Wolk A. Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer. Lancet 2001; 357: 1764-6.
Chavarro JE et al. A 22-y prospective study of fish intake in relation to prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 88: 1297-303.
Augustsson, K., et al., A prospective study of intake of fish and marine fatty acids and prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 12(1): p. 64-7, 2003.
Norrish AE, Skeaff CM, Arribas GL, Sharpe SJ, Jackson RT. Prostate cancer risk and consumption of fish oils: a dietary biomarker-based case-control study. Br J Cancer 1999;81:1238-42.
Stott-Miller M, Neuhouser ML, Stanford JL. Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer. Prostate. 2013 Jun;73(9):960-9. Ritchie JM, Vial SL, Fuortes LJ, Robertson LW, Guo H, Reedy VE, Smith EM.Comparison of proposed frameworks for grouping polychlorinated biphenyl congener data applied to a case-control pilot study of prostate cancer. Environ Res. 2005;98(1):104-13.
Mullins JK, Loeb S. Environmental exposures and prostate cancer. Urol Oncol. 2012 Mar-Apr;30(2):216-9.