Fish Oil in Health and Disease

Fatty Acids and Colon/Breast Cancer

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. Several major epidemiologic studies have found a clear association between a high dietary fat intake and the risk of developing breast and colon cancer. The correlation is particularly strong in the case of animal fats. One study found that a high fish or fish oil consumption is protective against later stage colon cancer in men, but has no effect on mortality from breast cancer. British medical researchers now report that fish and fish oils not only protect against colon cancer in men, but also against colon and breast cancer in women. This protective effect, however, is only apparent in countries where the intake of animal fats is high. In other words, a high intake of fish or fish oils counteracts the detrimental effects of a high animal fat consumption.

Increased Fish Oil Consumption Could Reduce Colon Cancer Risk in Men

The study compared cancer mortality rates in 24 European countries, Canada and the USA with fish consumption and the intake of animal fats. In countries where the animal fat intake was high the researchers found a clear inverse correlation between the ratio of fish fat to animal fat and the risk of developing breast cancer in women and colon cancer in both men and women. A similar correlation was found between cancer risk and the ratio of fish fat to total fat intake.

The researchers conclude that a 15% decrease in animal fat intake combined with a 3-fold increase in fish oil intake could possibly reduce male colon cancer risk by as much as 30% in countries with a high animal fat intake. A 3-fold increase in fish oil intake could be achieved by eating fish three times a week or by taking two standard fish oil capsules daily.
Caygill, C.P.J., et al. Fat, fish, fish oil and cancer. British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 74, No. 1, July 1996, pp. 159-64

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