Omega-3s and Prostate Cancer Fact Check: What’s a Guy to Do?

The media is abuzz in the wake of a surprising new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute linking omega-3s to a higher risk of prostate cancer. But should men give up eating their salmon?SuppsInFishShape

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are generally acclaimed for their link to reduced inflammation and overall health promotion, especially heart health. Omega-3s are found in salmon and other fatty fish as well as in supplements. Fish oil capsules containing the omega-3s EPA and DHA are among the most popular supplements.

The study measured the percent of three omega-3s most commonly found in fish and supplements – DHA, EPA and DPA – in the blood of 834 men with prostate cancer matched to 1,393 men without cancer. Men with the highest percentage of omega-3s in their blood had a 43% increased risk of prostate cancer compared to those with the lowest concentration. No increase in risk was found in the men in the two middle quartiles – in other words, those with moderate levels.

What’s a guy to do? For now, follow AICR’s evidence-based recommendations for prostate cancer. Men can include plenty of foods rich in the antioxidants lycopene (tomatoes are a great source) and selenium (found in sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts) and rest easy knowing they’re helping reduce their risk of not only cancer but other chronic Continue reading


“Unfit for Human Consumption”: Processed Meat Science vs. Spin

meat delicaciesWell, it sure got people’s attention, we’ll say that for sure. But is it accurate?

Last week a blog post from an organization called the Institute for Natural Healing picked up on one of the 10 AICR/WCRF Recommendations for the Prevention of Cancer first published back in 2007. That blog post has since gone viral (it’s been shared tens of thousands of times across many different social media platforms), and has attracted the attention of the news media, who have now approached us for comment.

Neither AICR nor our international partners, the World Cancer Research Fund, have any connection to the Institute for Natural Healing, whose website sells “natural” dietary supplements to treat conditions ranging from cancer to heart disease to male potency. (AICR/WCRF’s report and continuous updates have found that when it comes to cancer, it’s better to rely on whole diets, not dietary supplements, to reduce your risk.)

Last week’s INH blog post specifically spotlighted the AICR/WCRF recommendation to avoid processed meat (a category which includes hot dogs, sausage, bacon and cold cuts — for more information, see the AICR Blog post “What is Processed Meat, Anyway?”). That recommendation, at least, is real. It is the conclusion of an independent panel of leading scientists convened by AICR/WCRF who, following the largest, most comprehensive review of international research ever undertaken, judged the evidence that processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer to be convincing. This review was published in 2007 and was subsequently confirmed in 2011. Continue reading


Study: Are Scientists Overstating the Diet-Cancer Link?

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlights why studying the link between diet and cancer is such a complex and often confusing prospect. It also illustrates why results from any individual study must always be examined in the wider context of the research that has gone before. (Which is, let’s just note here, precisely what AICR/WCRF’s expert reports and Continuous Update Project [CUP] do.)

Researchers at California’s Stanford Prevention Research picked 50 foods at random from a cookbook and entered them into a research database to see how many had been associated with cancer risk — either raising or lowering it — by individual studies. For 40 out of the 50 foods, their searches turned up studies that suggested some effect on cancer risk. Upon closer examination, the researchers concluded that many of these reported associations were weak — certainly too weak to justify someone concerned about cancer risk changing her/his diet to include or exclude the foods in question. Continue reading