It seems that fish oils may reduce the risk of breast cancer. A group of scientists in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China have shown that consuming one to two portions of oily fish per week could reduce ones risk of breast cancer by up to 15%!
The authors of the study analysed data from 26 previous studies from Asia, Europe and the United States and showed that eating higher levels of dietary marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (that have the unfortunate acronym, PUFAs) is associated with a significantly lower risk of breast cancer.
Salmon, tuna, and sardines are the most abundant source of marine n-3 PUFAs and the researchers say that n-3 PUFAs are the most promising subtypes of dietary fat “to inhibit or curtail carcinogenesis and reduce risk.” The researchers offer a number of explanations for the anticancer effects of marine n-3 PUFAs including the possibility that they decrease the production of oestrogen, thus reducing oestrogen-stimulated cell growth – the type of growth producing many forms of breast cancer.
Interestingly enough, there didn’t seem to be a protective link between alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and cancer in the breast. Although both alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and n-3 PUFAs are types of omega-3 fatty acids, only the PUFAs showed the anticancer effects.
A healthy diet should include two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish (such as salmon or mackerel). Babies, children and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to have children should have no more than two portions of oily fish a week as this may expose them to unnecessarily high levels of marine pollutants such as mercury. The rest of us can eat up to four portions a week. Did someone say, “Wassup B?”