Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked to Increased Prostate Cancer Risk

Published Online: Monday, September 16, 2013
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According to the results of a large cohort study, men with high blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids may be at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer. The new study, published online on July 10, 2013, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, confirms similar results found in a 2011 study.

The case-cohort study investigated the relationship between plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in 834 men diagnosed with prostate cancer from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. The researchers also enrolled 1393 men without cancer at baseline. Men whose blood concentrations of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were within the highest quartile had an overall 43% increased risk of prostate cancer compared with participants in the lowest quartile. Participants with the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids were 44% more likely to develop low-grade—and 71% more likely to develop high-grade—prostate cancer than those with the lowest concentrations.

The researchers were surprised by the results, as omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have health benefits due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

“It’s important to note, however, that these results do not address the question of whether omega-3s play a detrimental role in prostate cancer prognosis,” said study author Theodore Brasky, PhD, in a press release.

The authors recommend patients consider potential risks before increasing their intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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