July 2013

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels Associated with Prostate Cancer Risk

Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with prostate cancer risk, a new study reports.

Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Some nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which may be converted to DHA and EPA in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to provide a wide range of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and improvement in cholesterol.

Foods that provide omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and certain plant and nut oils, while omega-6 fatty acids can be found in palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower oils.

The recent study compared omega-3 fatty acid levels in 834 men with prostate cancer to 1,393 men without prostate cancer. Specifically, levels of EPA and DHA were measured. All study participants were categorized into one of four groups, according to omega-3 fatty acid levels in the blood.

The researchers found that the group with the highest omega-3 fatty acids levels had a 43% significantly increased risk of prostate cancer, compared to the group with the lowest omega-3 fatty acid levels. Furthermore, higher omega-3 fatty acid levels were associated with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Conversely, omega-6 fatty acid levels were linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Additional research on this topic is warranted before a conclusion can be made.

For more information about omega-3 fatty acids, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

For more information about prostate cancer, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions Database.


  1. Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song XL, et al. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt174
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.

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