Fitness enthusiasts are bricking it at the results of this new study, but all is not what it seems.

Does Omega-3 Increase Prostate Cancer Risk?

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

5 min read

Recent reports in the media suggest that using Omega-3 supplements can increase your risk of prostate cancer.

These claims come from a study which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute back in 2013.

Now, considering that almost everyone who goes to the gym uses Omega-3 supplements, it’s a fair to say the fitness world is absolutely shitting itself right now, and understandably so.

However, you needn’t worry!

When we look at the study in more detail, we can see that this is nothing more than the media (once again) twisting a story to create controversy.


The Study In Question

does omega 3 cause prostate cancer

When I first heard that researchers from Ohio State University of Medicine had discovered a link betwen Omega-3 supplementation and prostate cancer, my reaction was probably the same as yours:

“Holy mother of fuck!”

However, upon further inspection you’ll see that this study is absolute garbage.

The researchers claimed that high blood levels of Omega-3 correlated with a 70% higher risk of developing prostate cancer. They also stated that there’s a 45% increase in the chance of developing low-grade prostate cancer, and a 45% increase for all forms of prostate cancers in general. What they didn’t tell you (at least, not in the media) is that they never actually gave anybody Omega-3 supplements, they just trawled through old statistical data from earlier studies and cherry picked participants who had elevated levsl of EPA and DHA (the Omega-3 fatty acids) and prostate cancer.

Why did they do this?

Well, it’s mainly because the fitness industry is full of shit. We’d like to believe that all studies are conducted ethically and with good intentions, but that is not the case. Every year we see a few studies which make outlandish claims (like “protein shakes will kill you!” or “a glass of red wine is as good as one hour of exercise!”), which is done purely to garner media attention in order to secure funding for future work.

The “fish oil causes prostate cancer” controversy was just one of a string of nonsensical claims made in this paper. They also claimed that smoking correlated with a lower risk of cancer than not smoking, and that higher levels of trans fat correlated with a lower risk of cancer.

As you can see, this study is complete and utter fucking bullshit.



Russ’ Take-Home Advice

fish oil prostate cancer study

This study is nothing more than clickbait.

The blood levels of Omega-3 in the patients this study deemed “high risk” were 4.66%, and the blood levels in the control group were only 4.88%. So even though they cherry picked the data to suit their narrative, they still only provided a statistically insignificant difference. It’s like saying of the 1.8 million deaths recorded last year, 4.66% of people had X installed on their phones and 4.88% had Facebook/Instagram, therefore Mark Zuckerberg is trying to wipe you out.

And here’s the thing:

If fish oil genuinaly did cause prostate cancer, we wouldn’t even need a study to tell us, because the parts of the world where fish consumption is at its highest (Albania, Cambodia, and Cameroon) would also have the highest rate of prostate cancer, but that’s not the case.

Ex-senior science editor of Muscle & Fitness magazine Jim Stoppani commented:

Jim Stoppanie fish oil prostate cancer

There is decades of peer-reviewed research confirming the benefits and safety of Omega-3 supplementation.

Sure, some of those benefits are over-hyped (like the minimal fat burning effect they can produce, and that the government recommends using it to protect against coronary heart disease even though a 2018 meta-analysis showed that they do not – although they may decrease inflammation, which plays a major role in CHD, so they may help indirectly), but there are huge benefits when it comes to building lean muscle and reducing fatty triglycerides, so we definitely don’t want to be avoiding our Omega-3 fatty acids! (9, 10, 2, 3, 7, 8, 6, 4, 5)

So my advice is to carry on living a healthy life and ignore the findings of this bogus study.

References:

  1. Brasky, T. M., et al. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the Select Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst (2013).
  2. Zheng, J, et al. Fish consumption and CHD mortality: an updated meta-analysis of seventeen cohort studies . Public Health Nutr (2012).
  3. Aung, T., et al. Associations of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Use With Cardiovascular Disease Risks: Meta-analysis of 10 Trials Involving 77 917 Individuals. JAMA Cardiol (2018).
  4. Calder, P. C., et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology? Br J Clin Pharmacol (2013).
  5. Libby, P., et al. Inflammation and cardiovascular disease mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr (2006).
  6. Innes, J. K., et al. The Differential Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci (2018).
  7. Smith, G. I., et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr (2011).
  8. Smith, G. I., et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clin Sci (Lond) (2011).
  9. Couet, C., et al. Effect of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord (1997).
  10. Warner, J. G. Jr., et al. Combined effects of aerobic exercise and omega-3 fatty acids in hyperlipidemic persons. Med Sci Sports Exerc (1989).
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System – United States. (2017).

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

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