In the last few weeks we have been getting lots of questions from our patients about the recent study that has linked fish oil supplements to prostate cancer. Is this really true?
Please rest assured, your fish oils are completely safe, and still great for your health. Unfortunately like many studies out there, the conclusion drawn at the end of the study was questionable to say the least.
The part of the story that the media missed in reporting is that the subjects in this study were not given fish oil supplements but rather put on a diet that was high in fish. Eating fish and taking fish oil supplements is not the same thing and thus concluding that fish oil supplements can cause prostate cancer cannot really be stated. Eating fish will raise your Omega 3’s, that is true, but fish have a lot of other nutrients as well as toxins. Could it be that something else in the fish was carcinogenic leading to the prostate cancer? Our oceans are quite polluted and fish are exposed to many toxins including heavy metals, PCB’s and other waste products that end up in the ocean.
While EPA and DHA levels were slightly higher in the subjects with prostate cancer than those without cancer, (3.74% which is not all that high to begin with) the study does not state whether the increased omega 3 fatty acids levels in the blood were due to supplements or fish intake and association does not imply causation as lifestyle and other dietary factors are very much involved.
Many scientists are also referring to a myriad of other studies that conclude that in fact omega 3 fatty acids lower prostate cancer risk and looking at high fish consumption populations such as the Eskimos who tend to have lower prostate cancer rates.
Unfortunately the media is not always responsible in investigating their reporting and panic often spreads unnecessarily. This is the reason that you see a study on the news say one thing such as coffee is bad for you, and then a month later see the complete opposite such as coffee is good for you.
Please be assured that your fish oils are safe and still great for all aspects of your health, but be sure that your fish oil is high quality, pure, free of toxins and of course natural (triglyceride form is always best). Just as fish can have toxins, so can fish oils if they do not come from a good source and not processed with great care. We love the Tru TG fish oils from Designs for Health which are 90% triglyceride which is the highest level available on the market today.