Could reducing breast cancer risk as simple as adding fish like salmon to the weekly diet?
Dr. Duo Li, MD, professor, department of food science and nutrition at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and colleagues found that for every 0.1 g of fish-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) consumed had reduced the risk of breast cancer by five percent.
The research team examined the association between intake of fish and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) and the risk of breast cancer and to evaluate the potential dose-response relation, according to the study’s abstract.
Researchers analyzed results from 21 studies; 11 articles that included 687,770 participants examined fish intake. Seventeen articles included 527,392 participants examined marine n-3 PUFA and cancer events, and 12 articles that included 405,592 participants examined alpha linolenic acid. Blood tests were used to measure n- 3 PUFFA intake.
The results showed marine n-3 PUFA was associated with 14% reduction of risk of breast cancer. For each 0.1 g of fish-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) consumed was associated with a 5% reduction in risk. These results remained similar whether marine n-3 PUFA was measured as dietary intake or tissue biomarkers.
No significant association was observed for fish intake or exposure to alpha linolenic acid.
In their conclusion the researchers write “Higher consumption of dietary marine n-3 PUFA is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. The associations of fish and alpha linolenic acid intake with risk warrant further investigation of prospective cohort studies. These findings could have public health implications with regard to prevention of breast cancer through dietary and lifestyle interventions.”
However, Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, Senior Scientist and Director, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory Jean Mayer USDA HNRCA at Tufts University had a few concerns about this study, including that the studies were of different lengths and there was no mean follow-up.
Lichtenstein commented “Hence, if [patients] interpret the findings to suggest that a fish oil supplement will decrease their risk of developing breast cancer they would be taking away the wrong message,’ as reported by MedPage Today.
She did add that this was an important analysis that may focus needed attention on the possibility of a relationship between n-3 PUFA and breast cancer. Bottom line from Lichtenstein: It is time for a prospective study.
This study is reported in BMJ