Omega 3 Benefits Include Cutting Colon Cancer Risk
by Kirsten Whittaker
Work in animals and some small studies in people has found that fish oil
supplementation can bring down inflammation, and might also have some
cancer-fighting ability. To date, research looking at diets of larger groups of subjects
has brought results that aren't so certain.
In search of answers, researchers looked at the relationship between
polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and bowel cancer risk in 1,503 white subjects
(including 716 colon cancer patients,787 healthy controls) and 369 African American
(213 with colon cancer, 156 controls) subjects.
Among whites, those who's omega-3 intake was in the top fourth had half the risk of
colon cancer compared to those in the bottom fourth. When the team looked
separately at the two main fatty acids in fish oil - eicosapentaenoic acids and
docosahexaenoic acids - they saw the colon cancer risk also fell with increasing
Researchers also looked at whites and blacks together where they found a lower risk
of colon cancer with increasing intake of omega-3s. A separate analysis of the black
participants didn't find this same relationship.
There was an "unexpected" association between the higher omega 3 intake and
colon cancer in African American subjects, but the team suggests caution in
interpreting this result. It might have been due to chance, though nevertheless they
conclude further evaluation would be beneficial.
The team also found that subjects who consumed more omega 6 fatty acids in
relation to omega-3s were more likely to have colon cancer.
People in the U.S. typically eat more omega 6 fatty acids (found in palm oil, soybean
oil and sunflower oil) than the omega-3 fats. Omega 6 intake in itself didn't affect
Our bodies can't make omega-3 fatty acids on their own, so 500 milligrams a day of
the components EPA (eiosapentaenoic acid) plus DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is
what's recommended for healthy adults. Getting good fats from food is the best way
to go, as 90% of the nutrient (vs. 50% of the supplement form) are absorbed into
If you do decide to use fish oil or other supplements to get the omega-3 you need,
remember that even in the U.S., these products aren't as regulated as they should
be. Stay away from "too good to be true" claims, or products backed by research
that isn't printed in a respected, peer reviewed journal.
Reputable manufactures will point out the quality manufacturing processes they use,
which all add to the omega 3 benefits. Know too that fish oil capsules can contain the
same contaminants as fresh fish, and have been known to leave you with an
unpleasant body odor. Never, under any circumstances, take more than the amount
recommended on the bottle, and be sure to talk with your doctor before you begin
any supplementing program to minimizes colon cancer risk.
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Your doctor will tell you that a diet
rich in fish oil and other food high in
omega-3s is good for your heart -
working to cut the risk of hardening
of the arteries, irregular heartbeat,
heart attack, sudden cardiac death
and even heart failure. But now some
new research hints that omega 3
benefits might also include cutting
your colon cancer risk as well. This
form of cancer starts in the large
intestine and often brings no
symptoms. Omega 3 fatty acids are
found in fish like salmon, tuna and
halibut, algae and krill, seed oils
(walnut oil and flax seed oil) and leafy
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