Feature

Health scare of the week: Omega-3 and prostate cancer

Men who consume high levels of omega-3s in fish or fish oil supplements have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, a new study shows.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have long been credited with reducing inflammation and helping to protect against heart disease and Alzheimer’s. But a new study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle shows that men who consume high levels of omega-3s in fish or fish oil supplements have a 43 percent increased risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who consume low levels. They are also 71 percent more likely to develop high-grade prostate cancer, the type most likely to be fatal. Fish oil is the most popular supplement in the U.S., but “there is really no evidence that taking dietary supplements is beneficial to health, and there is increasing evidence that taking high doses is harmful,” the study authors write. It’s unclear why omega-3s from fish might increase the risk of prostate cancer; fatty acids found in vegetable oils and flaxseeds do not. The findings don’t mean that men should stop eating fish, study co-author Theodore Brasky tells ABCNews.com, but “they should probably moderate their intake of fatty fish, and they should avoid fish oil supplements.”

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