Omega 3 study flawed


Men who eat a lot of seafood or take fish oil sup­ple­ments can re­lax – the re­cent study link­ing omega 3 and prostate can­cer is as good as a fish out of wa­ter.

An Ohio State Univer­sity study pub­lished last month in the Jour­nal of the National Can­cer In­sti­tute claimed that omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish in­creased the risk of prostate can­cer in men.

The study has since been con­demned as hav­ing method­olog­i­cal flaws. For in­stance, it was not de­signed to in­ves­ti­gate the role of omega 3 in­take and prostate can­cer, but the ef­fects of se­le­nium and vi­ta­min E on prostate can­cer.

There was no ev­i­dence that any­one in the study took fish oil sup­ple­ments, or how their omega 3 in­take was achieved.

Fi­nally, if the study was ac­cu­rate, prostate can­cer would be ram­pant in any coun­try with high seafood con­sump­tion, such as Scan­di­navia and Ja­pan, and it is not.

In fact, a 2010 large-scale meta­anal­y­sis of 31 stud­ies pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion found high lev­els of fish con­sump­tion not only did not in­crease the risk of prostate can­cer di­ag­no­sis, four of those stud­ies found a 63 per cent de­crease in risk of death from prostate can­cer for high fish con­sump­tion.

Nat­u­ral Prod­ucts New Zealand ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ali­son Ques­nel, says Ohio’s prostate study was ir­re­spon­si­ble and ig­nored the great body – in­clud­ing 10,000 sci­en­tific stud­ies – of ev­i­dence col­lected over many decades show­ing the ben­e­fits of omega 3 fatty acids.

‘‘Mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of this es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent in­clude sup­port­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, brain de­vel­op­ment and func­tion, men­tal health and in­flam­ma­tory con­di­tions,’’ Ms Ques­nel says.

‘‘This [study] is noth­ing more than scare­mon­ger­ing. The au­thors of the study have jumped to a bold con­clu­sion, but ex­perts comment that it can­not show any sort of cause-an­d­ef­fect re­la­tion­ship. The fact that the study was not de­signed to eval­u­ate the ques­tion the re­searchers sought to con­firm, high­lights its lack of ro­bust­ness and fails to show any sig­nif­i­cant data.

‘‘Omega 3 is an es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent which pro­vides many health ben­e­fits and peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly men, should not stop eat­ing fish or tak­ing omega 3 sup­ple­ments based on this study.’’

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