Omega-3 Fish in Diet May Reduce Cancer Risk

James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD Associate Editor BMJ Open Heart Cardiovascular Research Scientist Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Interview with:
James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD
Associate Editor BMJ Open Heart
Cardiovascular Research Scientist
Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. DiNicolantonio: Daily low-dose aspirin has been shown to decrease the risk for cancer in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, which is likely attributable to its ability to modestly decrease the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2), an enzyme which contributes importantly to the genesis and progression of adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are cancer of the glands, the most common type of breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma) is an adenocarcinoma, additionally many cancers of the lung, intestine, esophagus, colon are adenocarcinomas.

We show that an ample dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 fats—the type prominent in fatty fish—would oppose cox-2 activity.  Additionally, we cite numerous evidence that a higher intake of long-chain omega-3 fats has been found to reduce the risk for numerous types of cancer – especially when looking at trials that excluded fried or preserved fish (or fish high in omega-6), excluded trials with a high background intake of omega-6, and included trials where the “high” intake group – actually ate 2 servings of fish or more per week. Additionally, basic science as well as randomized data showing that long-chain omega-3s can reduce the number and size of colon polyps supports this argument.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. DiNicolantonio: Eating the right kind of fish (i.e. high in omega-3 low and low in omega-6) such as salmon (not farm-raised), in the right quantity (at least 2 servings per week), prepared the right way (baked not fried) may help to prevent adenocarcinoma.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. DiNicolantonio: Large randomized trials testing increased long-chain omega-3 intake and reducing omega-6 intake would provide further insight.


A Higher Dietary Ratio of Long-Chain Omega-3 to Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids for Prevention of COX-2-Dependent Adenocarcinomas
DiNicolantonio JJ1, McCarty MF, Chatterjee S, Lavie CJ, O’Keefe JH
Nutr Cancer. 2014 Oct 30:1-6. [Epub ahead of print]