If you have watched the news lately, you have probably heard about a study linking increased risk of prostate cancer with omega 3 fatty acids ( Brasky TM, et al. 2013). The media, looking for big headlines, presented this as a new truth about omega 3 fat. Supposedly, it was now dangerous to eat fish and take fish oil. If you have followed this, you have probably also seen a lot of objections to that conclusion, and authorities in this field have been pointing out flaws in the study.
This study is a good example of bad science. The conclusion that omega 3 fatty acids are causing prostate cancer can not be made. It was not a cause and effect study, showing that if you take omega 3 fatty acids you get prostate cancer.
These researchers did not account for important risk factors for prostate cancer. Without doing that, a lot of things can be found to cause prostate cancer. The study participants who developed prostate cancer could have started to take omega 3 fat after they had already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, yet there was no information related to that possibility.
The study did not consider any of the research showing that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial if you have prostate cancer. Harvard University researchers have completed research on the effects of omega 3 fatty acids from fish on prostate cancer incidence and mortality which included 20167 men and 382144 person-years of follow ups (Chavarro JE, et al. 2008). They found that omega 3 fatty acids from fish was unrelated to prostate cancer incidence, but may improve prostate cancer survival. A Canadian study found no strong evidence for a protective association of fish consumption with prostate cancer, but it did show a significant 63 percent reduction in prostate cancer specific mortality.
How about women, breast cancer and omega 3 fatty acids?
As an example, one study concluded that DHA, one of the active ingredients in omega 3 fatty acids from fish, may slow the proliferation of tumor cells and minimize their metastatic potential (Blanckaert V,et al. 2010). There are also numerous studies showing benefits for the brain as well as the cardiovascular system. I don’t think all of this research can be wrong, so I prefer to keep taking my omega 3 fish oil.
Cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. These vegetables are considered some of the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
The research reviewed investigated the association between the intake of this type of vegetables and the risk of breast cancer (Liu X, Lv K. 2012). This was a meta-analysis where the researchers analyzed several articles on this topic to come up with a conclusion.
The results from this evaluation indicated that high consumption of cruciferous vegetables was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk.
A lot of people may not like these types of vegetables, but an easy way to use them is to include them in soups and stews. Steaming them and adding them to a meal with chicken, fish or turkey is another way.
If you know you are not going to eat enough of these vegetables, another way to get the benefits of the major substance responsible for most of the healthy results is to take some capsules of sulforaphane. You can read more about sulforaphane by clicking here.
The research reviewed investigated how physical activity, both during reproductive years as well as after menopause, affected breast cancer risk (McCullough LE, et al. 2012). The researchers also evaluated how weight gain affected the risk of breast cancer.
We have all heard that physical activity and exercise is important, but a lot of people think that it only affects cardiovascular risk. This is far from the truth. Physical activity helps to prevent degeneration of muscle skeletal tissue; it has a profound effect on the biochemistry and affects the production of hormones, it even affects cancer risk.
The results of this study showed that the women in the third quartile of physical activity experienced the greatest benefits with an approximate 30% risk reduction for both reproductive and menopausal activity. It was found that weight gain increased breast cancer risk and it was also documented that substantial postmenopausal weight gain may eliminate the benefits of regular activity.
We all know that physical activity provides numerous health benefits. A recent study which included 32,269 women examined the relationship between both vigorous and non-vigorous physical activity and its effects on postmenopausal breast cancer risk (Leitzmann MF, et al, 2008).
It was interesting that it was only vigorous activity in lean women that was found to be associated with reduced risk for postmenopausal breast cancer. The same relationship was not found for women with a body mass index of greater than or equal to 25.
Vigorous activity can be a variety of things. Some of the things that researchers mentioned were running, biking uphill and competitive tennis, but there are of course other things you can do as well. You want to keep in mind when you exercise to do it hard enough so that you get your heart rate elevated and you start to breathe heavier.
If you exercise harder, you also need to spend less time exercising to get in shape. That is why top athletes usually incorporate interval training in their routine which means short bursts of high intensity exercise alternating with low intensity or rest.
Leitzmann MF, et al. Prospective study of physical activity and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2008 Oct 31;10(5):R92.