Every year, more than 17 million people find out they have cancer. New prevention strategies are desperately needed, and breaking research shows fish oil may be one of them.
What is Fish Oil?
As a beneficial health supplement, fish oil is no stranger to health news headlines. In fact, oily fish, flax seeds, krill oil and other sources of omega-3 (and omega-6) essential fatty acids have long been recommended to bolster the body’s defenses against chronic disease and illness.
Up until recently, though, there was little direct research exploring the link between fish oil and cancer.
Does the Type of Cancer Matter?
As of today, much more research is still needed to understand exactly how fish oil supplementation may play a role in preventing abnormal cell mutation that characterizes a number of related diseases grouped under this header.
A specific research from a European Journal study focused on the impact of fish oil on colon and colorectal polyp formation.
One of the most important outcomes of this particular study is how its findings support the push for further research into the efficacy of fish oil for disease prevention.
What Does Fish Oil Do to Combat Disease?
Another related study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated a link between fish oil and reduced risk of developing colon polyps. The study followed 5,300 adult female participants who tracked how much and how often they ate fish.
At the end of the study, participants who reported eating a quantity of fish equivalent to three weekly servings were 33% less likely to be diagnosed with colon polyps. Not only did participants eating fish have fewer polyps overall, but they also had less prostaglandin E2 circulating in their bodies.
Prostaglandin E2 is a particular hormone that is thought to be an indicator of systemic inflammation of the type that can lead to abnormal cell mutation.
Researchers were encouraged by these findings, citing the fact that fewer polyps plus lower prostaglandin E2 levels corroborate the likelihood that fish oil supplementation has real benefit in preventing chronic diseases.
What Kind of Fish Should You Eat?
While this research focuses on participants’ fish intake as the primary source of fish oil, it is not necessary to eat fish in order to get fish oil.
What is important is to take in an adequate quantity of omega-3 essential fatty acids each week. Fish oil supplements, such as capsules, are an alternative for vegetarians, vegans and those who do not eat fish for other reasons.
If you do choose to get your fish oil by eating fish, it is vital to eat the right kind of fish. Researchers suggest salmon, tuna, and sardines are all good options for adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
Adding Omega Fatty Acids to Your Diet
It is also important to ensure you keep your diet relatively low in omega-6 fatty acids, which may possibly limit how effective omega-3 fatty acids can be in preventing cell mutation that leads to disease. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in foods like seed oils, grains and meat.
This assertion is supported by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study mentioned earlier, which found that female participants who ate three servings of fish per week had a beneficial reduction in colon polyps and prostaglandin E2 levels, while male participants did not.
The working hypothesis suggests that men may eat more foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which can limit the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce harmful cell activity.
The European Journal study mentioned earlier also highlighted the importance of reducing intake of NSAIDs and aspirin medications in order to experience the beneficial and protective impact of omega-3 fatty acids.
It is easy to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, whether in the form of eating fish rich in these fatty acids or taking fish oil or krill oil in supplement or capsule form.
As with any change to your regular health regimen, it is always wise to talk with your doctor first, especially if you are taking other medications required for the management of any chronic health condition.