RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—In a newly published study, cancer prevention researchers have found a link between women who take fish oil supplements and a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Although the study doesn't provide 100 percent clear-cut proof that using this type of supplement can ward off breast cancer, it does back up previous research that suggests omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may reduce the risk. The study appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention this month.
THE DETAILS: Researchers looked at non-vitamin, non-mineral "specialty" supplement use of more than 35,000 postmenopausal women and discovered that those who regularly used fish oil supplements were one-third less likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not use fish oil. "We looked at days per week and years of use, but not dose per day," says study author Emily White, PhD, an investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, both in Seattle. She noted that most women who used fish oil at the time they entered the study (in the low-risk group) took it four to seven times a week.
"Risk of breast cancer did not vary by years of use," she added. Researchers also found a lower breast cancer risk in higher-risk women (older age, obesity, heavy drinking, and physical inactivity are believed to put women at a higher risk) who reported taking fish oil supplements.
The study author also looked at 14 other non-vitamin, non-mineral supplements and found that no others were related to breast cancer risk. In addition, researchers also found that use of supplements sometimes taken for menopausal symptoms, including black cohosh, dong quai, soy, and St. John's wort, were not associated with breast cancer risk.
Published on: July 12, 2010