Omega-fatty acids and prostate cancer: Is there a link?

By Laura Mize • Published: October 22nd, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Guys, do you want to avoid prostate cancer? Of course you do.

Listen up. You’ve probably heard good things about omega-three fatty acids: that they can help prevent serious health threats, such as heart attacks, strokes and certain types of cancers.

But new research shows something else may be true of these nutrients. A study of men from across the country revealed that guys with the highest levels of omega-threes in their blood had a much higher chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer — 43 percent higher, to be exact.

If caught early, prostate cancer is usually very treatable. But some types, known as high-grade prostate cancer, are tougher to handle. The study also showed that high omega-three blood levels boosted a man’s risk of these cancers by 71 percent.

Some past studies have also indicated a link between elevated omega-three blood levels and prostate cancer. Still, researchers say there’s no clear evidence that omega-threes definitely cause prostate cancer.

But noting these results is important, especially if you take omega-three nutritional supplements, also labeled as fish oil. Some nutrients we take in via supplements are chemically different than their naturally occurring forms. It’s not clear how that may affect the body, if at all.

While the study didn’t ask men how they got their omega-threes, some experts insist the supplement forms of it are the problem. Instead of taking pills, they say, we should meet our need for omega-three fatty acids through a balanced diet that includes plenty of fish.

The jury’s still out on supplements, but eating a balanced diet is always key. Future research should shed more light on omega-threes and prostate cancer. In the meantime, talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about the potential dangers. That’s always a good place to start.