Digesting the Latest Fish Oil Study

Submitted by Leslie Lingaas on August 28, 2013 at 10:26 am
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Some men have been concerned about a recent study from a team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that suggested that taking fish oil supplements or eating too much fatty fish might increase the risk for being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

            Professor June Chan, ScD, an epidemiologist within the Departments of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Urology, cautioned that the study findings, although provocative, do not address long-term outcomes for men who have already been diagnosed with the disease.  Also, other large prospective studies with more years of follow-up have reported that greater intake of fish or omega-3 fatty acids is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer death.

            “Men should also remember that consumption of fish is good for overall heart health, and heart disease is still a top cause of death, even in prostate cancer survivors,” said Chan.

Like many cancers, prostate cancer is a complex, heterogeneous disease, according to Chan. She and other members of the UCSF urology team have been involved in a number of studies over the last decade looking at diet and lifestyle factors on prostate cancer outcomes.

“Scientists are just beginning to amass appropriate data to examine how a man’s genetic profile may affect how he reacts to particular nutrients and to lifestyle changes,” said Chan. As that information becomes available, health care providers will be able to fine-tune recommendations for cancer risk reduction.