Posted on Mon, 12 Jul 10
A new report has found that postmenopausal women taking fish oil supplements have a lower breast cancer risk. This is the first study to find an association between regular fish oil supplement use and breast cancer.
Several dietary supplements are commonly used by women during menopause, some of which have been proposed to reduce breast cancer risk however there have been few studies examining whether or not this is the case.
To see if any supplements were associated with cancer risk 35,016 postmenopausal women were questioned about their use of dietary supplements. Women who were currently using fish oil had a reduced risk for breast cancer, however the same risk reduction was not found for other supplements such as black cohosh, dong quai, soy, or St. John's wort (1).
As the study investigators point out, based on this finding it is too early to suggest fish oil supplements for breast cancer prevention, though this observation raises an interesting possibility. In support of this finding a previous report found that dietary intake of the beneficial fats found in fish oil was associated with reduced breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women and it is also known that fish oils have cancer protective properties (2-3).
In any case, increasing your intake of fish oil through dietary supplements is a great way to reduce heart disease risk, and although not entirely clear, emerging evidence suggests fish oil supplements may also lower the risk of developing breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
1. Brasky TM, Lampe JW, Potter JD, Patterson RE, White E. Specialty Supplements and Breast Cancer Risk in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Jul;19(7):1696-708.
2. Saadatian-Elahi M, Norat T, Goudable J, Riboli E. Biomarkers of dietary fatty acid intake and the risk of breast cancer: a metaanalysis. Int J Cancer 2004;111:584–91.
3. Berquin IM, Edwards IJ, Chen YQ. Multi-targeted therapy of cancer by omega-3 fatty acids. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):363-77.