A story recently ran in the press proclaiming a fish oil prostate cancer link that we should all be afraid of.
According to the latest headlines, using omega 3 supplements can significantly increase your chances of developing prostate cancer.
Given that bodybuilders, athletes and fitness lovers all over the world tend to use Omega 3 supplements on a daily basis, these headlines are enough to send shockwaves through gyms everywhere.
Well, as expected, they did!
And that’s the reason I create today’s article, where I will discuss these “findings” a little further than the headlines hope you’ll look.
I mean, everyone and their Grandma uses Omega-3 supplements these days.
Needless to say, not dissimilar from the publicity-seeking events of a couple of other studies lately (such as the crazy headlines which claimed that a glass of red wine is better than an hour of exercise or the laughable statements that a high protein diet will kill you) once you get “under the hood” of the headlines there is nothing to be concerned with at all!
Fishing For Facts
Let’s get to the bottom of this one.
Legendary bodybuilding coach Jim Stoppani, who received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Conneticut and has gone on to become one of the world’s top supplement experts, had this damning report on these press releases:
“This so-called “study” is completely bogus.
I’ll get into the details further down the page, but I wanted to be sure to call BS as quickly and clearly as possible.
Sorry to be blunt, but it angers me when scientists publish weak statistical correlations that cause the media to get the public in a tizzy over the fake dangers of supplements.”
Now, the actual study which the press have been having a field day with came as a result of statistics which were published by the Journal Of The National Cancer Institute. (1)
It claimed that men have a 70% higher chance of developing prostate cancer if they have elevated levels of omega-3 in their blood.
The study also claimed that they had a 45% increased chance of developing low-grade prostate cancer and a 45% increase for all prostate cancers in general.
Naturally, this made great headlines.
But guess what..
This study (if we can even call it that) does absolutely nothing to back up the shocking claims it makes.
To date, there have been numerous studies which have looked into the possible dangers and benefits of Omega 3, and the consensus is that Omega-3 fats actually help you to prevent cancers (including prostate), not cause them.
A Very Flawed Study
If Omega-3 fats did indeed cause a massive 70% increase in the chance of developing prostate cancer, it would be very easy to identify this problem without the need for a study.
Naturally, we should expect that the countries around the world with the largest fish consumption should also be the ones with by far the highest rates of prostate cancer.
And the ones with the smallest fish intake would be also have the smallest rates, right?
But that isn’t the case.
Jim, author of New York Times’ best-seller Encyclopedia Of Muscle Strength (2006) and senior science editor for Muscle & Fitness magazine, adds:
“The blood levels of omega-3 fats in the patients that were considered to have a higher risk of prostate cancer were 4.66 percent. The blood levels of omega-3 in the control group were 4.48 percent.
That’s a change of less than 0.2 percent!
This is a minuscule difference and should be considered statistically insignificant.
But if you run enough different statistical tests, and particularly if you’re simply aiming to confirm your anti-supplement bias, you can eventually find one that helps you show ‘significance’.
An equally glaring problem with the study is that the researchers did not give subjects any Omega-3 supplements before making their conclusions. Heck, they didn’t even follow a high fish diet.
All they did was take old data from previous studies, look at the level of Omega-3 fats in the patients’ blood, and run selective statistics to show that there was a relationship to the rate of prostate cancer.
And yet the lead author jumped to the wild conclusion that Omega-3 supplements cause prostate cancer!”
Jim isn’t alone in his damning report on this study.
In fact, several top researchers have rubbished the findings and even questioned why it was published by the Journal Of National Cancer Institute in the first place, due to the gaping holes in it.
But it gets worse.
The same study also suggested that smoking was better for your health than not smoking!
You read that correctly – this same study told you to smoke to lower your risk of cancer!
I hate to be able to say this, but it goes even further.
The final ridiculous findings in these studies suggested that having higher levels of trans fat would also decrease your risk of prostate cancer.
Yes – trans fat!
The unhealthiest, absolute worst type of fat you can consume. The one which offers us literally zero nutritional benefits at all.
Ending The Fish Oil Prostate Cancer Fiasco
Time to get serious here for a second.
You are basically being told to avoid eating fish and using omega-3 supplements, which are filled with healthy fats and various other proven benefits, and replace it with fast food and smoking.
Jim is spot on in his claims that this “study” is nothing more than headline-fodder.
These claims cannot be taken seriously at all and the panic it caused among gym-goers when it was published by the mainstream media is totally unjustified.
In a world where the majority of people just want straightforward information on how to get fitter, it is a shame that information like that can be published in the first place, because in my opinion the authors are simply looking to gain publicity.
If you enjoyed my post on the supposed fish oil prostate cancer link, all I ask is that you are kind enough to share it with others.
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- Brasky, T. M., et al. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the Select Trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2013).