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Ask Tufts Experts February 2019 Issue

Q. Does taking omega-3 fish oil help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer?

Omega-3 fatty acids

Image BlackJack3D | Getty Images

Omega-3 fatty acids from foods like fish, flax seed, and walnuts are good choices, but they have not been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk.

A. Melissa Townsend, a Frances Stern Nutrition Center Dietetic Intern at Tufts Medical Center, answers: “Research has traditionally shown that omega-3 fatty acids are integral to anti-inflammatory processes that support cardiovascular health, brain health, growth, and development. Foods naturally containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts, are part of a healthy and balanced diet. Currently, the research regarding the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids as protectors against prostate cancer risk is limited. Preliminary research studies have provided data to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may inhibit human prostate cancer cell proliferation in vitro (in a lab setting). However, interventional studies with fish oil supplements have concluded that supplementation does not decrease the risk of prostate cancer. In general, however, omega-3 fatty acids from foods continue to be part of a healthy diet. Consult with your physician before taking omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements.”

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