A new report published by the National Institute of Cancer states an association exists between prostate cancer and Omega-3 fatty acids. This is the worst kind of weak association study that looks at other studies without considering the patients actual known cancer risk factors. Of the 843 patient cases, some had eaten fish, some had taken Omega-3 fish oil supplements. Some also drove Buicks and some drove Cadillacs. I have to add this weak study to the many others that are agenda driven to entice folks to not do for themselves what they can do, but rather trust the medical establishment to take care of your health through invasive, side effects ridden pharmaceutical drugs.
The doctor quoted on CBS is represented as stating a “strong” association between incidence of prostate cancer and Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, I heard this same doctor on the radio last night being interviewed and saying, “it’s a very weak association and no other factors were used to offset the findings.” In other words, it was not considered whether the patients were smokers, alcohol consumers or whether they had taken any lifestyle precautions.
Here’s the quote from CBS news:
Omega-3 fatty acids have previously been linked to protective benefits against heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
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Dr. Anthony D’Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, noted to HealthDay that the findings did not mean that omega-3 fatty acids caused the cancers, but that they just were strongly linked to increased occurrence of the disease. He added that the researchers had to look at other factors that may have caused the prostate cancer in the male subjects before saying for sure that omega-3 fatty acids was the main reason for their disease.
“All of these studies on associations, which is what this is, are hypothesis-generating because they are looking back in time,” D’Amico, who was not involved in the study, explained. “It’s not a cause and effect.”
The phrase ‘strongly linked’ was dismissed on his radio interview. He said the association of fish oil to prostate cancer is the same as driving a Buick to prostate cancer. It’s the same weak, unrelated association. By the same token from the Framingham Heart Study, I could easily associate heart attack incidence with watching television.
Of course, I have been taking Omega-3 fish oil for 8 years now. I will not stop taking Omega-3 fish oil, that is purified and safe, due to a lazy report of a weak study. The benefits from Omega-3s are too many and too great. When peeking behind the scenes, I think I know what is going on. The real message behind this study and others like it, “a study of other studies”, is obvious. “Trust only pharmaceutical drugs, don’t trust what’s natural.” It’s too easy to obscure the facts and actual important variables and create a headline that is easy to propagate through weak health reporting.
As Mark Twain opined “There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics.”
I am sorry I have to refute such nonsense but I think it’s important you hear the other side. Further, in the next few days, I predict there will be a dozen rebuttals from celebrated scientists and doctors emphatically encouraging their patients to not stop taking Omega-3s based on this weak study. Don’t give up on your health, your health regimen or basic common sense.
By the way, I took my Omega-3s this morning. Since I wrote this on Friday, I thought I would look today for articles and what’s cropped up from the holistic community.
Here’s an excerpt,
Are there prospective studies showing protective benefits of omega 3 fatty acids against prostate cancer?
Researchers investigated the effect of dietary fish intake amongst 6272 Swedish men who were followed-up for 30 years. That study reported that men who ate no fish had a two–three-fold increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who consumed large amounts of fish in their diet. (Terry et al. 2001)
Another prospective cohort study based on the Physician’s Health Study found that fish consumption (≥5 times per week) was not related to prostate cancer risk but was protective of prostate cancer–specific death.(Chavarro et al. 2008)
Other studies have suggested lower prostate cancer risk with Omega 3 fatty acids from fish in Swedish men (Norrish AE, et al.) and in Japanese and Brazilian men (Kobayashi et al. 1999).
A large prospective cohort established in 1986 looked at 51,529 American men, 40 – 75 years of age, completed a mailed questionnaire about demographic and medical information found that a high intake of fish was associated with a lower risk of metastatic prostate cancer. A similar association was also found for dietary marine fatty acids from food.
An important clinical study published by a group at the Harvard School of Public Health examined the link between dietary fish consumption and the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. This paper reported results from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that involved 47,882 men over twelve years. During the twelve years, 2,483 cases of prostate cancer were identified. Of these, 617 were advanced and 278 were metastatic. Eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer but had an even greater impact on the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. For each additional 500 mg of marine fat consumed, the risk of metastatic disease decreased by 24%! (Augustsson, et al. 2003).
In a meta-analysis (a study of studies) Szymanski and his team found that a significant 63% reduction in prostate cancer-specific mortality in those that consumed fish but no link between eating lots of fish and men’s risk of developing prostate cancer. (Szymanski et al. 2010).
Am I getting carried away with all these citations yet?
I know the content became scientifically heavy but I just wanted to make a point that there are reason’s why many practitioners like myself recommend fish and fish oils to patients.
Final note and Doggy Bag
Most men will develop prostate cancer within time regardless of what they eat or don’t eat. If you live long enough, you’ll get it. The deadly kind is what we are trying to avoid.
The 71% aggressive prostate cancer associated with Omega 3 fatty acid consumption sounds dubious.
The fish oils from fish or supplements in the study did not control for the quality of fish or fish oil. Some fish (and fish oil supplements) can contain environmental chemicals that can contribute to prostate cancer such as PCB (Ritche et al. 2005). Also, fish oils can oxidize easily if not careful which may make them more damaging. This was not accounted for in this study.
Personally, I am not ready to ignore the plethora of research suggesting its beneficial effects.
I just popped 3 fish oils a minute ago. I am not making any personal changes on my fish oil consumption based on a blood test of Omega 3 fatty acids from a retrospective study. In my opinion, this study is informative, mildly suggestive, but weak.”
From Garey Simmons: The study is not cause and effect and known cancer risks in patients were not adjusted for. This makes the study rather useless. Other studies and better, longitudinal studies show the exact opposite that fish oil lowers risk of prostate cancer.
More from Dr. Geo: (interview with Dr. Anthony Victor D’Amico, M.D., PH.D who has a doctorate from M.I.T.)
Talk-radio host Michael Savage, who has a Ph.D. in epidemiology and nutrition from Cal Berkeley, condemned on his show last night the highly publicized study linking prostate cancer to fish-oil supplements.
Savage, who read the study, said the research presented in what he called a “very, very dangerous report” does not support the conclusion that there is a higher risk of prostate cancer among men who consume omega-3 fatty acids.
D’Amico agreed that the study “really cannot make the conclusion that it’s trying to, because these types of studies are not cause and effect; that is, if you take the fish oil you’re going to get an aggressive or some kind of prostate cancer.”
The study, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found a 71-percent higher risk for dangerous high-grade prostate cancer among men who ate fatty fish or took fish-oil supplements.
D’Amico explained to “The Savage Nation” audience that the conclusions in studies of this kind are simply associations.
“And when you have an association-type study, the way you strengthen it – which is not what they did – is you try to adjust for that association for all the things you know can cause prostate cancer,” he said.
D’Amico said that while the study accounted for family history and diabetes, it left out some important risk factors for prostate cancer, such as ethnicity, PSA level, age and body-mass index.
“What you’re left with at the end of the day is an association that, at best, is very weak and further weakened by the fact that they didn’t account for the known predictors of prostate cancer when they were making the calculation,” D’Amico said.