27 January 2012

Fatty Fish Consumption May Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer

Posted by Jody under: Cancer .

Swedish scientists studying possible links between diet and risk of prostate cancer report in the June 2 issue of The Lancet that men who frequently consumed fatty fish had a lower risk of prostate cancer than men who did not. The fish most often associated with the decreased risk included salmon, herring and mackerel.

Paul Terry, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, followed the lifestyles and health status of over 6,000 Swedish men, beginning in 1967. On average, the subjects were studied for 21.4 years, with some being followed for 30 years. The men were typically in their mid-fifties at study initiation. At that time, they completed questionnaires investigating lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking habit.

Over the course of the study, 466 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the subjects. Dr. Terry and associates compared the lifestyle characteristics of those men who did and did not develop the disease. They found that an increasing proportion of fish in the men s diets was significantly associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer. In addition, high fish consumption was also often found in concert with increased physical activity, smoking and higher consumption of fruit and vegetables, but less often associated with high consumption of red meat and processed meat.

When these other lifestyle factors were statistically controlled, the association between fish consumption and decreased risk of prostate cancer became even stronger — men who seldom or never ate fish had double the risk of having prostate cancer than did those who ate moderate or high amounts. The effects of fish consumption on risk of death from prostate cancer were even more striking. Men who never or seldom ate fish had more than triple the risk of dying of prostate cancer than did those whose consumption was moderate or high.

One caution about the interpretation of this study is that Swedish people typically eat fish frequently. Thus those who consumed fish seldom or never were unusual in this population: only about a dozen subjects reported eating fish  seldom or never.

The authors attribute beneficial effects of fatty fish consumption to the fact that these fish provide relatively large amounts of omega-three fatty acids, compounds that  inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro [in test tubes] and in vivo [in living animals or people]. Also supporting this connection, the authors state, are data from large epidemiological studies that  showed greatly increased plasma concentrations of eicosapentenoic acid (EPA [an omega-three fatty acid]) in people from Sweden and Denmark who consumed high amounts of fatty fish.

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