Does omega-3 have an adverse effect on the prostate?


Dear JJ,

A review by Brower et al (J. Nutr., 134:919-922 (2004)) based on population studies indicated that increased intakes of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid as alpha-linolenic (LNA) was likely to reduce the risk of heart disease mortality. However, this review indicated a somewhat disturbing association between higher intakes of LNA and an increased risk for prostate cancer. It remains to be elucidated whether such an association (if substantiated) might be due to LNA itself or certain food sources carrying components in addition to LNA which might contribute to this suggested association. An independent study from the National Cancer Institute in the United States (Leitzmann et al., Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 80:204-216 (2004)) on 48,000 men aged 40-75 years followed for 15 years indicated that increased dietary intakes of LNA appeared to increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer whereas higher intakes of DHA/EPA were associated with a reduction in the risk of total and advanced prostate cancer. The various findings are now being extensively investigated via population studies in different countries.