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Omega 3 Fatty Acids Linked To Prostate Cancer

Last updated on Saturday, July 13, 2013

(UNDATED) - You may have been told that taking fish oil supplements were good for your heart and your brain. New research suggests those supplements may have a big side effect in men - prostate cancer.

Researchers say they have confirmed a 2011 study showing that men who have the highest levels of Omega 3 fatty acids have a higher risk of prostate cancer.

The report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says men with the highest levels of the acids saw their risk for prostate cancer rise by 71-percent, with a lower risk increase for lower fatty acid levels - but an increase nonetheless.

Dr. Ruemu Birhiray, an oncologist with St. Vincent Cancer Care, says more research is needed, as the latest study did not distinguish Omega 3 acids from supplements as opposed to those from fish.

But Birhiray says he doesn't believe that taking fish oil supplements have much benefit. "We often think that we can easily replace things from nature by simply taking a pill. Over and over again, it's been shown that's simply not the case," said Birhiray.

The team from Ohio State University that published the latest study first conducted research in 2011 that showed men with the highest levels of one omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, DHA for short, had double the risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

Other studies on other supplements have had similar findings. "People thought that simply taking vitamin E would prevent prostate cancer, and it had the opposite effect," said Birhiray. "In lung cancer, they showed that taking vitamin A was not the same as eating a carrot (to get) beta-carotene."

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