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Fatty Fish May Cut Prostate Cancer Risk

Study Shows Eating Fish High in Omega-3s Reduces Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Clinical Trials Needed

Omega-3 researcher Jorge Chavarro, PhD, of Harvard Medical School tells WebMD that the findings are consistent with his own studies of omega-3 and prostate cancer.

In a 2007 study, Chavarro and colleagues with the Harvard School of Public Health reported a 41% reduction in prostate cancer risk among men who ate higher levels of omega-3s than men with the lowest intake.

In separate studies, the Harvard team found that men who ate fatty fish before being diagnosed with prostate cancer and after their diagnosis were less likely to die of the disease.

Chavarro's research also suggests that omega-3 is particularly protective against the most aggressive prostate cancers.

He tells WebMD that this supports the growing belief that prostate cancer is a more complex disease than previously thought.

"We call everything prostate cancer, but clinically aggressive cancers and more localized, benign cancers may be two very different diseases," he says. "In the past we have studied overall disease. But it may be that the effects of fish and other anti-inflammatory interventions, like Cox-2-targeting drugs, affect only aggressive disease."

Roswell Park Cancer Institute President and professor of oncology Donald Trump, MD, tells WebMD that there is enough evidence suggesting a protective role for omega-3 against prostate cancer to justify a large trial studying whether eating a diet rich in omega-3s -- or even taking omega-3 supplements -- can actually lower risk of prostate cancer.

"This is a very nicely done study, but we definitely need a clinical trial," he says. "These results suggest that we may be able to identify men who will be most likely to benefit and least likely to benefit from this intervention."

Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Tuna

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