Fish Oil Supplementation Use and Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

September 1, 2010


Speciality Supplements and Breast Cancer Risk in the VITamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort
Brasky,T. M. et al., Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev., 19 : 1696-1708 , 2010
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Ctr., Dept. of Epidemiology, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA


A total of 35,016 post-menopausal women (free of breast cancer history at initiation) completed a questionnaire and were queried on their frequency and duration of using various nutritional supplements. After a follow-up period of six years, 880 cases of breast cancer were registered. Interestingly, the regular use of fish oil supplements containing DHA plus EPA was associated with a 32 % reduction in breast cancer as compared to non-users whereas such apparent protection was not found for the other supplements that were monitored and often taken for potential relief from menopausal symptoms. The authors concluded that fish oil may be inversely associated with breast cancer risk and that fish oil ‘is a potential candidate for chemoprevention studies’.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

It would have been very interesting to have information on the average daily intakes of DHA and EPA via the fish oil supplements across the different users to determine if a dose-response relationship may have presented itsself.  A study from Korea as published last year by Lim et al. (BMC Cancer , June 30, 2009) indicated that premenopausal women having high intakes of fatty fish and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA plus EPA) had significantly lower risks for developing breast cancer.

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