The available evidence, on balance, suggests any concerns raised in a new study1 are premature.
Despite media reports, this study shows no direct link to fish oil supplementation as the study did not actually look at the omega-3 intake of participants.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition this week said that in the study on omega-3 conclusions are overblown, and this new study does not change the recommendation about the importance of this nutrient. The CRN also said the researchers were quick to blame dietary supplements even though there is no evidence that anybody in this study took fish oil dietary supplements. (www.crnusa.org/prpdfs/CRNPR13-NewStudyOmega-3ConclusionsOverBlown071113.pdf)
The Blackmores Institute suggests that further research is needed to better understand the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer risk. (www.blackmoresinstitute.org/news-and-insights/omega-3-and-prostate-cancer)
Blackmores suggests the average healthy diet should be full of a wide range of wholefoods high in nutrients, such as leafy green vegetables, fruits and legumes combined with moderate amounts of grains, dairy foods and proteins, such as lean meats, eggs and fish.
The current Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest Australians should consume around 2 serves of fish each week. (www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/
Response from International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA):
The SELECT study was not designed to investigate the role of omega-3 fatty acid intake on prostate cancer. In contrast, it was designed to investigate the effects of selenium and vitamin E on prostate cancer prevention.
There is no data in the study on dietary intakes of fish oils or oily fish consumption, or to support ingestion of omega-3 supplements. Hence no firm conclusion can be drawn with regard to omega-3 fatty acid intake and prostate cancer risk.
Evidence from a prospective, case-control study can only indicate a potential association. It does not demonstrate cause and effect, and hence it cannot be concluded that omega-3 fatty acids have a causative role in the development of prostate cancer.
In Europe, a recent scientific opinion was published on upper save levels of long chain omega-3 fatty acids.2 It was concluded that supplemental intakes of EPA and DHA combined doses up to 5g/day, and supplemental intakes of EPA alone up to 1.8g/day, do not raise safety concerns for adults, and that supplemental intakes of DHA alone up to about 1g/day do not raise safety concerns for the general population.
Also in Europe, following rigorous assessment process, DHA and EPA have been awarded authorized health claims for heart health benefits. These include for contribution to the normal function of the heart, for the maintenance of normal blood pressure, and for the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels.3
In America, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s Food Nutrition Board (IOM FNB) and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines all have current policies advising Americans to eat more oily fish because of the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition, the World Health Organization found convincing evidence for reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and consumption of fish oils (EPA and DHA).4
Overall, this supports evidence of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, and of their safety.
If you are unsure about how much omega-3 is right for you, please contact your healthcare professional or call our Health Advisory at 03-7955 0993 or email us at [email protected]
Brasky TM, et al. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT trial. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst 2013. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt174First published online: July 10, 2013 EFSA 2012. Scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). EFSA Journal 10 (7): 2815 European Union (2011). “EU register on nutrition and health claims.” www.ec.europa/eu/nuhclaims WHO/FAO Expert Consultation (2003). Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. Geneva, World Health Organisation