If you read or heard the recent media coverage on the findings of a study linking increased levels of fish oil with an increase risk of developing prostate cancer, you may well be feeling somewhat confused. It is helpful to know that contrary to the conclusions of the study, the researchers were not monitoring either diet or fish oil supplements, but were measuring the level of omega 3 fatty acids found in the blood. They assumed that high levels of serum omega 3 fatty acids equated to high intake of fish oil supplements. Whether this was the case was not monitored, and therefore the quality of any fish oil supplements the participants may have used was not monitored either.
All supplements need to be a good quality, made with the best available ingredients for both providing the specific nutrients and also for the formation of the tablet or capsule. This is very important with fish oil supplements, where the oil used needs to be free from environmental toxins, such as polychlorinated biphenyls or methyl mercury compounds. Unfortunately in cheap fish oil supplements these toxins may be present, and are known to disrupt hormone balance, potentially influencing prostate cancer.
Likewise, no account was taken of the oxidation state of the omega-3 fatty acids measured. Cheap fish oil supplements are often oxidised, i.e. rancid, and these can produce free radicals and elevated oxidative stress, which is associated with increased cancer risk.
Alliance for Natural Health has written comprehensively about the problems with the study and can be read in full here.
At a time when Macmillan Cancer Support are predicting that almost half the people living in the UK in 2020 will get cancer during their lifetime, we need to be thinking seriously about how we can best support our health. Nutritional Therapy cannot make any claims, but working with foods to encourage health, and removing foods such as junk food and sugar, we can provide nutrients known to be vital in maintaining optimum health. If you would like help with dietary and supplement recommendations, you may like to request a consultation with me to work on your own personal, tailor-made nutritional health plan.