July 11 2013
Fish oil is good for you...until it isn't anymore
Here we go again. After years of being told fish oil is good for you (heart health, stoke prevention, skin, hair, baby's brain), now cancer researchers at the University of Seattle are saying:
...those with the highest levels of omega-3 in their blood were 71 per cent more likely to develop fast-growing, hard-to-treat prostate tumours.
They were also more likely to contract the slower, less deadly form of the disease, with the overall prostate cancer risk raised by 43 per cent.
There are two things to take away from this article. First, this new research demonstrates the schizophrenic nature of medical and health warnings today. One day, docttors are telling you a particular thing is good for you; the next, it's bad. That's frustrating for people working hard to take care of themselves. Second, if you read to the end of the article, it says this (emphasis mine):
Professor Malcolm Mason, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘The results of this study are surprising, and we clearly need more research to understand what is behind them.’
Although he stressed the researchers could not be certain whether the study’s participants ate oily fish or took omega-3 supplements, he said the results ‘show how complex the effects of food supplements might be’.
Dr Iain Frame of Prostate Cancer UK agreed that ‘larger and more complex studies will need to take place before we understand how the risks of a diet high in omega-3 balance against [its] benefits’.
Yet, despite the clear suggestion that more research is needed, the headline screams: "Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 70%"
Nice work, headline writer. You certainly got me to click on your story.