Something Fishy About This –

4 02 2012

I read today that a recent study cited by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men with high levels of DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil,  were 2.5 times more likely to develop serious prostate cancer.  The study was conducted by the Fred Hutchinso Cancer Research Center and included nearly 3500 participants.  Similar results were found in a European study where men with the highest levels of DHA ended up showing the highest numbers of prostate cancer.  Other studies have shown that fish oil does not prevent heart disease or prolong the onset of Alzheimer’s.  DHA has also not been proven to make babies smarter although you can find it in everything from baby formula to baby food and snacks.  A study in 2005 reported by A Journal of the American Medical Association reported that fish oil could increase cardia arrhythmia in some people.  in 2006, another study reported by the British Medical Journal stated that Omega-3’s have no heart health benefit.  Other reports in 2009 and 2010 have born out the same results.  Harvard has found that the more fish based omega-3 that are consumed, the more likely it is for a person to develop type II diabetes.

This after hearing the opposite for at least the last 20 years.  I recently just spent a small fortune on supplements including fish oil.  I guess I’ll be taking them back.  While I am adhering to a plant based diet, I though the fish oil would be good for me.  now i’m going to steer clear and just stick to what I’m doing.

This reminds me of the study I heard about several months ago which stated that daily use of multivitamins actually shorten a person’s lifespan rather than increase it.  This too smacks in the face of all we have been taught over the years.  What are we to believe?  What are we to do?  My answer is to eat closer to the source, take better care of my body and hope that this is enough.  That is about the best I can come up.  We’re all headed to the same place anyway but it would be good to prolong the journey there for a little bit.  Like the saying goes “get busy living or get busy dying” .

Thanks to Dr. Neal Barnard for the info.  His excellant blog can be found here:

The specific studies mentioned can be found below.

Brasky TM, Till C, White E, et al. Serum phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk: results from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. Am J Epidemiol. Published ahead of print April 24, 2011. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr027.

Raitt MH, Connor WE, Morris C, et al. Fish oil supplementation and risk of ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation in patients with implantable defibrillators: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005;293:2884-2891.

MacLean CH, Newberry SJ, Mojica WA, et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer risk: a systematic review. JAMA. 2005;295:403-415.

Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, et al. Risks and benefits of omega-3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review. BMJ. 2006;332:752-760.

Dijkstra SC, Brouwer IA, van Rooij FJA, Hofman A, Witteman JCM, Geleijnse JM. Intake of very long chain n-3 fatty acids from fish and the incidence of heart failure: the Rotterdam Study. Eur J Heart Fail. 2009;11:922-928.

Kromhout D, Giltay EJ, Geleijnse JM. n-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular events after myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2010;363:2015-2026.

Kaushik M, Mozaffarian D, Spiegelman D, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90:613-620.

Dangour AD, Allen E, Elbourne D, et al. Effect of 2-y n23 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on cognitive function in older people: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91:1725-1732.

Quinn JF, Rama R, Thomas RG, et al. Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation and cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease. JAMA. 2010;304:1903-1911.

Makrides M, Gibson RA, McPhee AJ, et al. Effect of DHA Supplementation During Pregnancy on Maternal Depression and Neurodevelopment of Young Children. JAMA. 2010;304:1675-1683.



2 responses

6 02 2012

I remember reading that article about the vitamins. It’s a bit ridiculous. I wonder what the authors of those medical articles say w respect to the contradictory findings. Was it something about the way the studies were set up that is leading to different results? Are omega-3s great for the body with the exception of contributing to highe prostate cancer?

6 02 2012

It seems that most of the studies referenced are saying that fish based sources of omega-3’s are not beneficial and may actually be harmful. But honestly, I’m just as confused as anyone who would have to try to make sense of all of this. I’m just going to get mine through flax, walnuts and other plant based oil source.

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