Fish Oil: Not All It's Cracked Up To Be?

New research suggests fish oil could dramatically raise your risk of prostate cancer

While numerous studies have touted the mental and physical benefits of the omega-3-rich Mediterannean diet, recent research shows that this style of eating may have a serious drawback. 

Eating too much oily fish or taking fish oil supplements could dramatically increase your chances of prostate cancer, according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle analyzed the level of Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood of 834 men who developed prostate cancer. They then compared the numbers to the levels in 1,393 men who did not. The men with the highest levels had a 43 percent higher risk for prostate cancer and a 71 percent higher risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

The numbers support the results of previous research. In 2011, scientists at “The Hutch” were surprised by similar findings in another group of men. Later, a European study found the same connection.

Two important omega-3 fatty acids—docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)— are known to play a critical role in brain function, normal growth and development, and inflammation. Deficiencies are linked to health issues ranging from cardiovascular disease to arthritis.

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are good sources, while certain plants—including flaxseeds and walnuts—contain another type of omega-3 fatty acid that can be converted into DHA and EPA.

While the scientists do not think people should give up eating omega-3s, lead research Alan Kristal believes men should rethink taking fish-oil supplements or eating more than two servings of fish per week.

“Humans are designed for a certain level of micronutrients and huge doses may not be good,” Kristal told The Seattle Times. “More micronutrients do not mean better health and sometimes means worse.”

Via The Seattle Times and Harvard Health Publications.