Fish Oils May Raise Prostate Cancer Risks Study Confirms
Everyone knows that fish oil is good for you, right? It’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are marketed to reduce the risk of just about everything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s.
But a startling study shows men who have the highest levels of these compoundsthe kinds found in fish but not in vegetable sourceshave a higher risk of prostate cancer. Men with the very highest levels had a 71 percent higher risk of high-grade prostate cancerthe kind most likely to spread and kill, they report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
It might be a sign that popping a pill is not only possibly a waste of moneyit might be downright dangerous. And eating fish too often might be, also.
“These fish oil supplements in which some men are getting mega, mega doses in our opinion that is probably a little bit dangerous,” said Theodore Brasky of Ohio State University Medical Center, who worked on the study with a team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The same team published a study in 2011 that showed men with the highest levels of one omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, DHA for short, had double the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Other studies have had similar findings.
The effect was even stronger when they looked at omega-3 fatty acidsspecifically, the kinds found in fish oil as compared to those found in vegetable oils.
By Maggie Fox, NBC News
Should I Use Supplements Or Herbal Remedies
Some people like to use dietary supplements or herbal remedies, but theres little evidence theyre helpful for men with prostate cancer. Some may even be harmful.
Theres little evidence that supplements are helpful for men with prostate cancer. Some supplements may interfere with your treatment for prostate cancer, so let your doctor or nurse know if youre taking any.
Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need by eating a balanced diet, without taking supplements. If you do choose to take supplements, dont take more than the recommended daily allowance for each nutrient because large doses could be bad for your health.
Some men may need to take specific supplements. For example,
- Vitamin D. Between October and March, try to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D supplements every day. This is because during these months, there is not enough sunlight in the UK for your body to produce enough vitamin D.
- Calcium. If youre on hormone therapy, your doctor might recommend calcium supplements.
Some men like to take herbal medicines to help manage their prostate cancer or the side effects of treatment. For example, some men drink sage tea to help with hot flushes. But there is very little evidence that herbal remedies can help to treat prostate cancer or reduce side effects.
Herbal supplements being tested
Treatments For Prostate Cancer
Whatever the relation between fish oil and prostate cancer is, treatments are important. After you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the doctor will stage where the cancer is and work with you to come up with a treatment plan. The good news is prostate cancer is slow growing and depending on the stage, treatments may not need to be overly aggressive, which include:
1. Watch and Wait
The doctor may opt to just watch the cancer and wait on treatment until it shows that it may be growing or spreading. This is an option for older men or men who have other health conditions.
2. Active Surveillance
Your doctor will monitor the cancer with blood tests and a rectal exam at 6 month intervals. If things start to look like they need further treatment, the doctor will discuss your options with you.
If prostate cancer shows signs of spreading, the doctor will offer surgery. When they open things up they will check the lymph nodes for the spread of cancer. If the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes, the prostate is removed. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the prostate will not be removed and the surgery stopped.
4. Radiation and Chemotherapy
If your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, your doctor will suggest a course of radiation and/or chemotherapy to kill off cancer cells.
5. Hormone Therapy
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Another type of prostate issue is chronic prostatitis, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This condition causes pain in the lower back and groin area, and may cause urinary retention. Symptoms include leaking and discomfort. In severe cases, a catheter may be required to relieve the symptoms. If the problem is unresponsive to other treatments, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. If these do not work, your symptoms could progress and become chronic.
An acute bacterial infection can cause a burning sensation. Inflammation of the prostate can affect the bladder and result in discomfort and other symptoms. This is the most common urinary tract problem in men under 50, and the third most common in men over 65. The symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis are similar to those of CPPS. Patients may experience a fever or chills as a result of the infection.
A bacterial infection can also lead to prostate issues. Acute bacterial infections can be hard to treat. Some men with a bacterial infection may need to take antibiotics to prevent or treat symptoms. Symptoms of the disease include fever and chills, pain in the lower back and the tip of the penis. Some men may have blood in the urine, frequent urination, and blood in the urine. If you suffer from acute bacterial prostatitis, a medical professional should be able to prescribe you the appropriate treatments to prevent the disease.
Study Subjects Do Not Appear To Have Taken Fish Oil Supplements
Life Extension scientists repeatedly reached out to the authors of the negative report, but did not receive a response as to whether any attempt was made to ascertain the source of the omega-3 in the study subjects blood. We wanted to know if these men regularly ate cold-water fish or took at least some fish oil supplements.
Despite our requests, no clarification was made available by study authors as to the level of dietary supplementation with fish oil, and if so, the source of fish oil used in the study.
Based upon the very low plasma percentage levels of omega-3 fatty acids detected in the study, the implication is that dietary supplementation with fish oil likely did not occur. Instead, based upon the low levels of omega-3 plasma phospholipids detected, the source appears to have been primarily diet only. As we will show soon, it appears that none of the men in this study consumed much in the way of cold-water fish either.
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Virtually No Difference In Omega
When reading the frantic news reports, you would have thought the omega-3 difference in men with up to 71% increased risk of prostate cancer must have been huge.
At Life Extension, our very first reaction was that the researchers were comparing cardiac patients who gobbled down huge amounts of fish oil supplements to normal individuals who consume relatively little omega-3s. Our initial assumption was that since heart disease patients have higher prostate cancer rates, then that would explain why higher omega-3could be mistakenly associated with increased prostate cancer risk, since heart disease patients are known to consistently take high-potencies of omega-3s through diet and supplements. How wrong our early conjecture was!
It turns out that the differences in omega-3 plasma phospholipid levels between groups were slight. In fact they were so close that we at Life Extension would classify them all as being too narrow to extrapolate meaningful data.
Our goal is to get the red blood cell omega-3 index values in Life Extension members to 8%-11% as this level was shown to offer the greatest protection against sudden myocardial infarction, yet the average quartile for plasma long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in the prostate cancer cases in the report associating fish oil with prostate cancer was only 4.66%.
The Course Website And Blog For The Fall 2016 Instance Of Penn State’s Sc200 Course
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Every morning I wake up and take two 1250mg Omega-3 fish oil pills. It is a habit that was formed through the insistence by my mother, who deeply cares about my well being. Consuming fish oil is commonly seen as a positive action and is thought to benefit ones health in a number of ways including lowering triglyceride levels, decreasing heart disease risk, and easing symptoms of other various disorders and diseases . Whenever I take any supplement to my diet I want to be sure that it is beneficial to my health. There has been some confusion recently over some possible negative health effects that fish oil supplements could impose upon the body. I wanted to look at some of those ideas and hopefully debunk these possibilities. One possible health effect being studied is the potential positive correlation between Omega-3 fatty acids, and an increased risk of prostate cancer in men. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil capsules. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a subdivision of the Oxford University Press conducted a study observing plasma phospholipid fatty acid intake and prostate cancer risk.
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Prostate Cancer Risk And Omega
It is generally reassuring when we read health advice that contains a clear message, especially when the advice involves something pleasurable. For instance, eat dark chocolate, and wash it down with red wine . But confusion and consternation abound when research produces a mixed message that seems contrary to previous advice. After years of hearing that eating fatty fish or taking fish oil supplements was good for the heart, the eyes, and even mood, the public was puzzled this summer by a study that suggested a risk of prostate cancer in men with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids obtained from these sources.
Although conclusions in research are subject to change, in this instance, investigators not connected to the fish oil study complained that the headline-hungry media did not cover all of the facts. They also charged that the headlines were potentially harmful and that the findings were tainted by overreach. A closer look at the study is warranted.
Study: Fish Oil Might Increase Prostate
Men who take fish-oil supplements or eat a lot of fatty fish expecting health benefits might actually increase their risk for prostate cancer, including aggressive types that are harder to treat.
That news comes out of a study published online yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and follows an analysis last year of 20 fish-oil studies that concluded that supplements offer no clear heart benefits.
The authors of the study, the second theyve done that found an association, say men would be well-served to skip supplements. Other experts say the new study is provocative but not definitive because the relationship between fatty acids and cancer is not well understood.
Americans spend about $1 billion a year on fish-oil supplements.
The study looked at 2,227 men, 834 of whom had prostate cancer. Of the cancer patients, 156 had high-grade, or more aggressive, cancer.
Men with higher levels of long-chain fatty acids in their bloodstream had a 43 percent increased risk for prostate cancer compared with those with lower levels.
And they had a 71 percent increased risk of more aggressive cancers, according to a statistical analysis by researchers including cancer epidemiologist Theodore Brasky, who now works at Ohio State Universitys Comprehensive Cancer Center.He worked on the project at Seattles Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
There are several things to keep in mind about the research.
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Results Are Completely Inconsistent With The Known Biology Pathophysiology And Biochemistry Of Prostate Cancer
A fundamental aspect of quality research is consistency, and repeatability.
Stated another way, for a medical finding to be considered valid, the results should not contradict well-established facts involving known biology, physiology, biochemistry, etc. Furthermore, the finding should be repeatable by other scientists.
The report attacking omega-3s is inconsistent with a variety of aspects of the well-established scientific and medical literature.
For example, upon close inspection of the data , non-smokers had more aggressive prostate cancer, and non-drinkers had higher risk of prostate cancer, and prostate cancer case subjects were less likely to report a history of diabetes than controls.
Based upon these results, the implication is that men who wish to avoid prostate cancer should consume excess calories and develop diabetes, drink alcohol heavily, and abuse tobacco.
This is completely inconsistent with well-established science, and utter nonsense.
In fact, numerous scientific studies show fish oil omega-3 fatty acids offer significant protective benefit for prostate health.
What About The Prostate Gland
In 2013, a paper published by Brasky, et al. threatened to tarnish the good name of fish oil supplements. Using data from the SELECT Trial, the Brasky team found a correlation between higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and greater risk of prostate cancer . In fact, they calculated a 44% higher risk of low-grade PCa and a 71% increased risk of high-grade PCa. This startling association was picked up by the media, creating confusion among doctors and their patients, especially men at risk of PCa or currently diagnosed with it.
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Fish Oil Prostate Cancer Debunked
The only other thing I was drinking in the first 6 months after my diagnosis was green tea. I would drink about 4 glasses of green tea daily to go along with the increased water intake. I wasnt putting any other liquid into my body for the first 6 months. This was a big help in starting my road to recovery.
Once I started feeling better then I added organic soy milk to my diet as well. Soy milk isnt much like regular milk but once you get used to it then its not bad at all. To this day these are the only 3 liquids I have in my diet. To recap the 3 liquids I drink today are purified water,green tea,& organic soy milk. I put no other liquids into my body period.
Now, I want to chat a little more about meat & other aspects of a proper diet. As I said we dont need meat to live. I thought cutting or limiting meat in my diet would be to hard to accomplish. Well again my thinking was wrong. Was it easy? No! However, after a couple weeks then things were starting to get easier. I didnt cut all meats out of my diet but I did cut certain meats & eat moderate amounts of all others.
One meat that needs to be completely cut or at least very minimized is red meat . Too much Red meat consumption is not good for prostate health. I was eating a lot of fast food burgers & also red meat at home. I will say to at least cut red meat completely out of your diet until you get your prostate health back.
If I Want To Take Omega
No, but if you take excessive amounts in supplement form, you could get an upset stomach. There is also some evidence that certain omega-3s contribute to prostate cancer, although the findings are still coming together.
The caution always with supplements is that unfortunately, there are many examples of whats on the label is not whats in the pill, Dr. Hopp said. There can be things missing. Not having the amount of EPA and DHA thats specified. Or there can be things added to them.
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Too Much Of A Good Thing
There are cases where, at excessive intakes, beneficial nutrient supplements, such as antioxidants, may have detrimental effects.
But that doesnt explain the present finding. The levels of omega-3 that the prostate cancer study authors refer to are not extreme they can be achieved through consumption of fish alone, without popping capsules.
The range of omega-3 levels from low risk to high risk as described in the study are within the range attainable by variations in the amount of omega-3 consumed in typical Australian diets.
While this observation raises concern, theres a lot more we need to understand before we can properly balance the risk-versus-benefit equation for omega-3 consumption.
In the absence of trials that can demonstrate a causal relationship, we need to have a clearer understanding of possible underlying mechanisms. Its known, for example, that omega-3 oils can influence certain male reproductive mechanisms, such as sperm production and motility, but there is currently no hypothesis to explain how they might influence prostate cancer risk.
At the same time, evidence is mounting for protective effects of omega-3 consumption in breast and other cancers
What Is The Relation Between Fish Oil And Prostate Cancer
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute checked the omega-3s levels in blood among men participating in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial , which was a trial looking at whether selenium or/and vitamin E would lower prostate cancer risks. The study showed that high levels fish oil in blood increased the risk of prostate cancer by 43%, and the risk for aggressive prostate cancer by 71%. However, this study did not take the participants diets into consideration, so its unclear whether the high levels of fish oil were due to food or supplements.
But why is fish oil and prostate cancer related?
Its still not fully understood. One possible explanation would be that some unknown properties of omega-3s, when in excessive levels, may result in oxidative stress, causing DNA damage.
Just like other supplements, moderation is key. Its always a better idea to get what your body needs from foods. Keep a balanced diet and that wouldnt be a big issue. If you really need to take fish oil, discuss it with your doctor to weigh the benefits and risks and determine the acceptable amount that would be safe for your body.
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