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Fish oil may reduce growth of prostate cancer

Ingestion of only five grams of fish oil daily combined with a diet low in fat in just 4-6 weeks is able to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells compared with the ingestion of a traditional Western diet, says new study.

Researchers from the University of California (UCLA) wanted to investigate whether a change in dietary fat and the ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 in the diet alter biomarkers for cancer. Biomarkers are biological substances and constituents of our body that can say something about our health.

The study included a group of 55 men diagnosed with prostate cancer who were about to have removed their prostate gland and some surrounding tissue. It was a so-called phase II study which evaluates the biological effects of a substance and possible side effects. 48 men completed the study.

The ratio between omega 6 and omega 3

The men were divided into two groups for 4-6 weeks before their planned surgery. They were given either a standardized Western diet or a diet low in fat with a daily supplement of 5g of fish oil. The reason that fish oil supplementation was combined with a low fat diet was that you in this way achieved an omega 6/3-ratio of 2:1, meaning two parts omega 6 for each part omega 3. For comparison, a typical Western diet have an omega 6/3-ratio of 15:1, (15 parts omega 6 for each part omega 3). There were 21 people who completed the trial in the Western diet group and 27 who completed the low fat / fish oil diet.

Quick results

In the group who ate a low-fat diet combined with fish oil the content of omega 3 fatty acids in cell membranes of the prostate was significantly higher than in the group who ate the Western diet. This was true both for the sick and the healthy prostate cells. Omega 6 content was also lower. The content of cholesterol in the blood was lower than in the group on Western diet, but particularly interesting it turned out that cancer cells had reduced their cell division – and mind you in just one month. This study is especially important for those who have been previously treated for prostate cancer. With this knowledge they can reduce their risk of relapse.

Facts about prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men. Most men with prostate cancer are over 65 years. Overweight and obesity provide an increased risk. The risk that the cancer returns after treatment are quite high. A high antioxidant intake may further reduce the risk for the development and return of this kind of cancer.

About omega 6:3

A dietary ingestion of omega 6 and 3-fatty acids approaching 2:1 is important to reduce disease-promoting inflammation in the body.

About Movember

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.  You can read more on the website: movember.com.

Ref. Aronsom WJ, et al. Phase II Prospective Randomized Trial of a Low-Fat Diet with Fish Oil Supplementation in Men Undergoing Radical Prostatectomy. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011, Oct. [Epub ahead of print]

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