by Randy Hartnell
Men, keep eating your salmon! The results of a recent study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute show that men who consume ample amounts of the fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. (Prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer as the most lethal cancer among men.)
And, the study also showed that eating too much ALA—the omega-6 fatty acid that is overabundant in most diets, thanks to its prominence in cooking oils and processed foods—may increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer.
This large, long-term study* examined 47,866 men between 40 and 75 years of age, who had no prostate cancer when the study began. After fourteen years, 2,965 men (six percent) had prostate cancer. The men with the highest combined intake of EPA and DHA were 11 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer and 26 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer. While the men with high ALA consumption levels did not seem to increase their total risk of prostate cancer, high consumption significantly increased the risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Interestingly, the researchers found that eating too much ALA from plant sources (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, etc.) increased the risk of advanced prostate cancer twice as much (100 percent increase in risk) as eating too much ALA from meat and dairy sources (50 percent increase in risk). Note: Sally Fallon and her colleagues at the Weston A. Price Foundation (see "Foraging for Insights and Good Food" in this issue) make a persuasive scientific case that animal fats do not deserve their unhealthful reputation, relative to vegetable fats.
*Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Michaud DS, Augustsson K, Colditz GC, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):204-16