Now another of many commentaries has been published.
Before you believe the talking heads on your TV station or the internet aggregator sites, do a bit of your own investigation. We hope this helps.
Several scientific studies have found a reduction in prostate cancer associated with increased omega-3 intake.1-11 A recent report purportedly showed the opposite.12
This report was based on a single blood test of plasma fatty acids in a group of 834 men who were followed up to six years to assess prostate cancer risk (low- and high-grade disease). A smaller group of 75 men was followed up to nine years to assess only high-grade prostate cancer risk.
The results showed that slightly higher omega-3 plasma percentages from this single blood test were associated with a greater risk of low-grade (44%) and high-grade (71%) prostate cancers over the multi-year follow-up.
This report was turned into news stories with headlines blaring “Omega-3 fatty acids may raise prostate cancer risk.”
Omitted from the media frenzy was the fact that this study was not about fish oil supplement users. The authors admitted they did not know how the study participants achieved what turned out to be very low omega-3 plasma percentages in all groups.
In fact, omega-3 plasma levels were only about 40% of what would be expected in health conscious people taking the proper dose of fish oil.12 ,13 The insufficient levels of plasma omega-3s in all the study subjects were overlooked by the media. Had these very low plasma levels of omega-3s been recognized, it would have been apparent that this report had no meaning for those who boost their omega-3 consumption through diet and supplements.
Also absent from the reporting was that more men with slightly higher omega-3 plasma levels had confounding risk factors for greater risk of contracting prostate cancer at baseline, such as having higher PSA scores and a positive family history. Although the authors attempted to statistically control (through a statistical model called multivariate analysis) for some of these risk factors in their analysis, the concern remains that the baseline data was confounded and therefore the statistical analysis invalid, and that the reported results are compromised by higher rates of preexisting disease along with a genetic predisposition, not because of the miniscule variance in the amount of their plasma omega-3.
Prostate cancer sharply increases by 120% to 180% in men who have a first-degree relative who had contracted prostate cancer. Nearly double the men who contracted prostate cancer in this study had a positive family history, and although the researchers attempted to statistically control for this confounding factor, this fact was conveniently overlooked by the mainstream media as omega-3s were instead labeled the culprit.
Associating a one-time plasma omega-3 reading with long term prostate cancer risk is ludicrous. That’s because plasma omega-3 changes rapidly with short-term dietary changes. It does not reflect long-term incorporation of omega-3 into cells and tissues. In this report, differences in baseline omega-3 blood measures were so trivial that if a man had just one salmon meal the night before, he could have wound up in the “higher” omega-3 group even if he never ingested another omega-3 again.14
Numerous flaws in this report render its findings useless for those who supplement with purified fish oils and follow healthy dietary patterns. This article represents Life Extension®’s initial rebuttal to this spurious attack on omega-3s that was blown out of proportion by the media.
Prostate cancer is a slow developing malignancy that can take decades to manifest as clinically-relevant disease. Commonly recognized risk factors for contracting prostate cancer are diet, body mass, race, family history, hormone status, and age.15,16
An under-recognized risk factor associated with developing prostate cancer is coronary artery disease.17 We at Life Extension long ago observed that men with clogged coronary arteries often developed prostate cancer (and vice versa). A renowned prostate oncologist named Stephen Strum, M.D., made a similar observation and established a common factor behind coronary heart disease and prostate cancer, i.e., bone loss.
Coronary artery disease is clearly linked with osteoporosis,18 as lack of vitamin K prevents calcium from binding to bone and instead allows it to infiltrate and harden the arteries. The ensuing bone loss results in the excessive release of bone-derived growth factors that fuel prostate cancer propagation and metastasis.
Long after Dr. Strum published his elaborate correlation, a 2012 study of 6,729 men showed coronary artery disease to be associated with a 35% increased risk of prostate cancer.17
The reason we bring up the connection of heart disease and prostate cancer is that the authors of the controversial study apparently failed to assess overall baseline health status of the study subjects. We initially suspected that men in the higher group of plasma omega-3 (which turned out to be low by our standards) were more likely to have coronary heart disease. That’s because men with heart disease are told by their cardiologists to eat less red meat and more cold-water fish. So it would not be surprising if the plasma percentage of omega-3 was higher in men with prostate cancer as they may have been trying to eat healthier to avoid bypass surgery or a sudden heart attack.
When we asked the authors of the report if they assessed the baseline cardiovascular status of the subjects, their reply was, “No, I don’t believe this to be the case.”
Read the rest of the story here