The People's Perspective on Medicine

Fish Oil May Raise Risk for Prostate Cancer

Fish oil capsules, close-up

The omega-3 fatty acid DHA in fish oil is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Epidemiologists suggest men should be cautious about loading up on DHA, though. They found men getting high levels of DHA had more than double the risk of an aggressive prostate tumor. There was no impact on the more common low-grade prostate cancer. Eating fish, on the other hand, should pose no risks.

[American Journal of Epidemiology, online April 24, 2011]

11/26/18 redirected to:

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    My PSA was always under 2. Then a blood test result showed it to be 4.80. My DR. Ordered another blood test in 6 months.Then I read that to much Fish oil could raise PSA. At that time I was taking over 2600mg of fish oil. I stopped taking the fish oil and my PSA returned to under 2.
    My DR. Asked me to get him a copy of the article but I don’t remember where I read it.

    I have been taking fish oil capsules (high quality), with 350 mg. of dha per serving for two years. My psa before starting was 4.6. three months later it raised to 5.4. A biopsy came back negative for prostate cancer. A year and a half later my psa test showed 7.57.
    I had ceased taking fish oil two months before this psa test. In a later psa test I showed a reading of 5.2, a drop of almost two and a half points after stopping the fish oil; however, I started taking an advanced prostate formula two months ago. This could have been the difference, I don’t know.
    I need the fish oil and d.h.a. to help with cholesterol and triglyceride control. Should I continue the fish oil? ( p.s.-there has never been any history of prostate cancer in my family on either side).

    Is there any information concerning vitamins, herbs, etc. affect on a PSA score? Thanks.

    Twice the risk? Does that mean 2 men developed the high risk cancer in the high fish oil group vs 1 in the not? What are the absolute numbers and not the statistician numbers? How high was the DHA in the low group? Too many unanswered questions.

    The study is reported to say:
    “Among the study participants, very few took fish oil supplements — the most common non-food source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to prevent heart disease and other inflammatory conditions. The majority got omega 3s from eating fish.”
    How does the People’s Pharmacy entitle their note, “Fish Oil May Raise Risk for Prostate Cancer,” and conclude that, “Eating fish, on the other hand, should pose no risks?”

    Flax doesn’t contain DHA. It contains the omega-3 acid ALA and only a small percentage of this is converted to DHA/EPA.

    I don’t understand why this would be the case with men in the USA when it is the opposite situation with males in Japan – where the consumption of sea food (and therefore Omega 3 DHA) is higher than in America with a much lower Japanese prostate cancer rate according to a study done at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu conducted by Dr. Takashi Fukagai of Showa University School of Medicine at Tokyo.
    And what other factors were considered or not considered? And is this DHA from all fish or only fish oil capsules?

    It would be good to know about the interactions with flaxseed oil, since another recent post noted British research that Flaxseed oil seemed to help shrink the prostate.

    I, too, would like to know what levels of DHA are considered “high”. Also, do Omega-3 DHA levels from flax seed oil pose the same risk?

    That’s the sad thing about this FORUM—they come out with a statement which only relay 1/2 the information.

    What about Omega-3 from flax seed oil? Are the projections the same?
    Thank you :-)

    Did this study establish either a safe dosage or a risky dosage? Or does it question any dosage of DHA?

    What is considered a high level?

    The article begins talking about the omega-3 fatty acid DHA in fish oil. It then goes on to simply state “DHA”. Were the results regarding double the risk of an aggressive prostate tumor based upon DHA from fish or fish oils only, or does that include other DHA sources such as flax seed and flax seed oil? It’s an important distinction to those who do not eat fish, but do eat plant sources of DHA. I look forward to your response.

    How much fish oil is ‘loading up on DHA?

    What is a HIGH LEVEL of DHA ?

    What is a “high” level of DHA that could “double the risk of an aggressive prostate tumor?”

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