FISH OIL INCREASES CHANCES OF
"We've shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful." Dr. Alan Kristal, member of the Fred Hutch Public Health Sciences Division and author of the recent paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute touting a the relationship between Omega-3's and Prostate Cancer.
Back in 2011, a study was published by (yes, you guessed it) the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center of Seattle, Washington. The study talked about the link between aggressive Prostate Cancer and Fish Oil / Omega-3's. Interestingly enough, that particular study showed not only that Omega-3's were tied to increased levels of Prostate Cancer, but that TRANS FATS were supposedly protective against Prostate Cancer. If you understand anything at all about the Immune System chemicals that we collectively refer to as INFLAMMATION and their relationship to both Trans Fats and CANCER, you are already sensing that something might be rotten in Denmark.
All of this begs the question about previous research on Omega-3's and Fish Oil Supplements. Are decades of previous research wrong? Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids just a bunch of hype? What is the truth? As always, I recommend that you do your own research and never take anything that any physician tell you (self included) as factual without first checking it out for yourself. Question everything you read or hear and you'll wind up healthier (and wealthier) for it!
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE RESEARCH
- SWEDISH STUDY: The June 2001 issue of the Lancet, published a study that followed nearly 6,300 men for 30 years. Conclusions? "Men who ate no fish had a two-fold to three-fold higher frequency of prostate cancer than those who ate moderate or high amounts did. Our results suggest that fish consumption could be associated with decreased risk of prostate cancer."
- NEW ZEALAND STUDY: The 1999 issue of the British Journal of Cancer compared 317 men with Prostate Cancer to a control group of 480 age-matched men from the same community. Conclusions? "A reduced risk of prostate cancer [is] associated with dietary fish oils". The Prostate Cancer reduction in this study was nearly 40% in the Fish Oil group.
- JAPANESE / BRAZILIAN STUDY: The September 1999 issue of Cancer Science followed 50 men from each of 5 different areas of Japan, as well as 50 men from Sao Paulo, Brazil (300 total). Conclusions? "The frequency of total fish intake corresponded to serum Omega-3 Fatty Acid composition. The relationship between cancer mortality and serum Omega-3 Fatty Acid levels was not clear, though an inverse association between prostate cancer and serum Omega-3 Fatty Acid levels appeared to exist." (in other words, more Omega-3's in the blood, less Cancer in the Prostate).
When you add it all up, what does all of this prove? I'm not quite sure other than it seems like Omega-3's are only related to Prostate Cancer if you are from the good ole USA. So; in light of what we know about the Cancer / Inflammation relationship, what could possibly be the mechanism via which Omega-3's are 'causing' Prostate Cancer? Hang on to your hats because this is where things start to get interesting.
Could there be something else other than consuming fish or taking Fish Oil Supplements that raises blood serum levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids? It turns out there is. And this one throws a monkey wrench in the machine, so to speak. It turns out that low fat diets also raise levels of Omega-3's in the blood. In February of 2001, the Journal of Nutrition (a peer-reviewed scientific journal) published a study called, "Total Fat Intake Modifies Plasma Fatty Acid Composition in Humans". The study's conclusions? "The [various Omega-3's] levels were all significantly increased in subjects when they consumed the low fat diet compared to consumption of the high fat diet.". What does this really mean? Let's take a quick look at a couple of different possibilities that prove Omega-3's might not be the menace that Dr. Kristal and his team are making them out to be.
- TOO MANY GRAINS AND SUGARS: The first thing that comes to mind is that if low fat diets, if they played any role at all in this study, tend to come with some serious baggage. Who remembers the crazy Low Fat / No Fat diet recommendations of the 1980's 1990's, and even the 2000's (HERE)? Nothing did more to ruin the health of our country than for our own government to openly declare that dietary fat, and not copious amounts of sugar and / or GRAIN-BASED STARCH is what makes people fat (and sick ---- HERE). The bottom line is that eating a crappy diet while taking Fish Oil Supplements does not get around the fact that you are still eating a crappy diet! If you want to truly deal with the Fatty Acid imbalances in your body, you must first understand that.......
- RATIOS RULE: If you look back at my Fish Oil Page, you will notice that I talk a lot about ratios of Omega-3's to Omega-6's. An optimum ratio of threes to sixes would be 1:1. That might happen if you were marooned on some fabulous tropical island. But in the real world, about the best you can expect is a ratio of 1:3 (maybe 1:2 if you are a total health freak). The problem is that here in America, every study I have ever seen on the subject says that we are eating diets with a ratio closer to 1:25 or even 1:30. Understand that this not only means that we are probably not eating enough Omega Threes, but that we are over-eating Omega Sixes as well. If you really want to fix this ratio (or at least drive it closer to optimal), you'll have to not only increase your intake of Omega-3's, but more importantly, decrease your intake of Omega-6's. Face it --- many people eat a crappy diet and then take some supplements to off-set it ---- including Fish Oil. Not only does this not help fix your ratio problem, odds are that in the process you are probably consuming.........
- POOR QUALITY OMEGA THREE SUPPLEMENTS: If you again look at what I have said on my FISH OIL PAGE, you will notice that I heavily promote only high quality, Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil Supplements (and the fact that these must be refrigerated). I am not going to go into detail on this matter here, but I would ask you to check out the link above if you want to understand what constitutes a quality Fish Oil / Omega-3 product. Again, read what I have written in the past. "Not taking Fish Oil is better than taking inferior quality Fish Oil". Again; to understand why, read the link.
What do studies like this recent one really prove? They prove that poor quality Fish Oil Supplements that contain copious amounts of potentially rancid oils, and likely contaminated with known carcinogens such as PCB's, dioxins, MERCURY and other heavy metals; may cause cancer ---- just as you might expect they would. I find it exceedingly hard to believe that in lieu of nearly two decades of research on Omega-3 Fatty Acids from around the world showing that fish or high quality Fish Oil Supplements are actually protective against Prostate Cancer, we now have to watch out for them because they actually cause it. As always, do your own research and make an educated decision regarding this topic.
For more information on Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil, including hundreds upon hundreds of studies from the peer-reviewed scientific literature, just visit THIS SITE.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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