Cancer risk not reduced by omega-3 fatty acids

In collaboration with the Press Association

Omega-3 fatty acids are unlikely to reduce the risk of developing cancer, according to an in-depth study conducted by researchers at Rand Health and the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

It had previously been suggested that the fatty acids, which are commonly found in certain fish and vegetables, could protect against the development of cancer.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows how researchers looked at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids from several different countries and demographic characteristics on 11 types of cancer.

Out of 65 analyses conducted, 55 revealed the fatty acids had no effect at all. Of the remaining ten, some omega-3 fatty acids seemed to increase the risk of developing cancer while in others it appeared to reduce the risk.

The report said: "Omega-3 fatty acids appear not to affect a mechanism of cancer development that is common across the different types of cancers evaluated in this report. Likewise, there is little to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of any single type of cancer."

However, Josephine Querido, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, added: "The jury is still out as to whether eating more omega-3 fatty acids will reduce your risk of developing cancer, and the evidence from this study is largely inconclusive. But, previous studies have suggested that diets high in fish oils can reduce the risk of bowel cancer. "The best way to reduce your risk of many cancers remains to eat a healthy, balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables."