Can fish oil stop breast cancer in its tracks?

September 21, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

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Fish oil has been touted to prevent cardiovascular disease. Now this heart-friendly supplement has another health benefit: lowering the risk for breast cancer. Fish oil supplements contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, substances that are beneficial to heart health and apparently also have some anticancer benefits.

This was revealed in a study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The study participants consisted of 35,016 postmenopausal women with no family history of breast cancer. The women completed a questionnaire on vitamin use. After 6 years, a total of 880 study participants were diagnosed with breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer was reduced by 32% among those who regularly took fish oil supplements. The protective effects of fish oil seem to be true only for invasive ductal breast cancer, which is the most common form of the disease.

What about other supplements?

Other forms of “specialty supplements” that are used to treat menopausal complaints do not seem to have an effect on cancer risk.

This is the first ever study to report the anti-cancer benefits of fish oil and although the results are promising, and even exciting, experts warn that more studies are needed before they can truly recommend fish oil as preventive measure against breast cancer. Previous studies on fish oil intake obtained inconsistent and inconclusive results.

According to study author Dr. Emily White,

“It may be that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements is higher than most people would typically get from their diet. Without confirming studies specifically addressing this, we should not draw any conclusions about a causal relationship.”

According to Dr. Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health

“It is very rare that a single study should be used to make a broad recommendation. Over a period of time, as the studies confirm each other, we can start to make recommendations.”

I do not think I would start taking fish oil supplements now but I think this news is comforting for those who are already taking the supplements for heart problems that they might be fighting two monster diseases with just one pill. Or is it too good to be true?

In the meantime, more research studies are being planned and we hope that we will have the answers soon.

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One Response to “Can fish oil stop breast cancer in its tracks?”
  1. Bryan says:

    Doesn’t surprise me. Fish oil has shown a variety of health benefits when taken on a regular basis. I’ve added fish oil to my regular diet, in addition to my other daily vitamins. For what it’s worth, taking one extra pill a day for added health benefits and possible disease prevention is well worth it in my opinion.

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