Can Eating Fish Lower the Risk of Breast Cancer?

logo1267406_mdA new study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that a high intake of fatty acids found in fish is associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of breast cancer later in life.

The researchers  investigated the association between fish and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA)  intake and the risk of breast cancer. The n-3 PUFAs include ALA, EPA, DPA, and DHA and are involved in chemical messaging in the brain, helping to regulate blood vessel activity and areas of the immune system. The main dietary source of EPA,DPA and DHA is oily fish, and of ALA is  mainly in nut seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

Researchers reviewed and analyzed the results of 26 studies from the United Sates, Europe and Asia  that involved over 800,000 subjects with over 20,000 breast cancer cases. Findings showed that marine n-3 PUFA was associated with a 14% reduction in breast cancer between the highest and lowest categories of intake with the lowest risk in Asians possibly due to higher fish intake than western countries. Further analysis showed a dose response: for each 0.1 gm per day or 0.1 % energy per day increment of intake of n-3 PUFA from fish there was an associated 5% risk in reduction. To achieve this risk reduction requires 1 to 2 portions weekly  of fish such as salmon, tuna, or sardines. However, no significant protection was found in ALA-the plant based n-3 PUFA.  Researchers concluded “Our present study provides solid and robust evidence that marine n-3 PUFA are inversely associated with risk of breast cancer. The protective effect of fish or individual n-3 PUFA warrents further investigation of prospective studies.”

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