In a new case-control study, researchers uncovered a reason why omega-3 fatty acids can reduce prostate cancer risk. It appears that these popular polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), found mainly in coldwater fatty fish such as tuna and salmon and in supplements, can counteract the activity of pro-cancer molecules called soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (slCAM-1).
The two most bioavailable omega-fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been associated with a number of health benefits ranging from reducing the inflammation and pain characteristic of arthritis to easing depression, lowering triglyceride levels, easing symptoms of asthma, and helping reduce the risk of dementia. Any evidence that omega-3s can help in the fight against cancer, including prostate cancer, has been scant. That’s one reason why this study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition garnered attention.
Previous investigations have shown that when it comes to circulating levels of slCAM-1, less is better. Therefore, the discovery that omega-3 can reduce slCAM-1 levels is a plus in the cancer-fighting column. To arrive at their conclusion, the researchers evaluated slCAM-1 concentrations in 408 people with cancer (including breast and prostate cancers) and 760 healthy controls.
Overall, the investigators found that “slCAM-1 was associated with an increased cancer risk among subjects with low omega-3 PUFA intakes, whereas no association was observed for subjects with higher omega-3 PUFA intakes.” Therefore, these findings indicate that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may counteract the pro-cancerous actions of sICAM-1. Given the many health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, including the potential to help in reducing prostate cancer risk, men are encouraged to eat cold water fatty fish at least twice a week or to take fish oil supplements.
Related: Does omega-3 really help your heart?
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Touvier M et al. Modulation of the association between plasma intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and cancer risk by n-3 PUFA intake: a nested case-control study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition