Omega 3 Supplements and Prostate Cancer

Ryan's picture

For years I have been prescribing both men and women omega 3 to help optimize their health and fertility. I have had good success with my patients and have never had any concern about them receiving side effects by taking this supplement. That is until recently. A study published in July 2013 brought up some concern as it describes a possible connection between high levels of omega 3 in the blood and an increase in prostate cancer.  

I have looked into this further. I want to be confident when prescribing any herb or supplement to my patients. I have found more research supporting the use of omega 3 and other research showing how this recent study should be interpreted with a significant amount of caution.
One of the problems with the study is that the information was taken from a much larger study which was not designed to analyze omega 3's effect on prostate cancer. It's also important to note that in this study:
- 53% of the men who had prostate cancer were smokers
- 64% of the men who had prostate cancer consumed alcohol
- 80% of the men who had prostate cancer were overweight
There are numerous studies showing multiple health benefits of fish oils.  When directly testing for prostate cancer there are dozens of studies specifically designed for this purpose that show how omega 3 actually decreases prostate cancer. In most of these studies, omega 3 consumption in early and mid life shows little benefit; the most benefit is when taken later in life. However, there is a correlation between smoked & salted fish consumption and an increase in prostate cancer so these particular types of fish should be avoided.  
Here's a good synopsisof this recent study and other studies regarding omega 3 consumption and prostate cancer please. 
I still feel confident that omega 3 consumption is of great benefit to both myself and my patients.  However, make sure you find a clean, sustainable source when searching for a supplement. Stay away from any type of farmed salmon sources; most of today's commercially produced fish oil comes from farmed fish. Farmed fish has 7x the amount of PCB's, 30x more sea lice, is given chemicals to maintain "healthy" color, fed the highest amount of antibiotics than any other livestock, and contain lower levels of omega 3 than wild sources of salmon and omega 3's.  Run away from farmed fish, both for supplementation and general consumption.  
I will be following any new studies regarding omega 3's and prostate cancer closely but at this time, with the information I have seen, I do not see any risk for men taking omega 3's.   
Best of Health

Dr. Ryan Funk, Dr.TCM