High intake of linoleic acid may cut cancer risk

August 25, 2004 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

High intake of linoleic acid may cut cancer risk

In a study of middle-aged men, high intake of linoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid found in certain plants and vegetables, seemed to lower the risk of prostate and other cancers, Finnish researchers report.

These findings hint that recommendations to substitute dietary linoleic acid for saturated fat to prevent heart disease may have the added benefit of protecting against cancers.

Investigators studied the association between dietary fatty acid and cancer risk in 2002 middle-aged men who were cancer-free during the first 4 years of the study. After nearly 13 years, 151 men had developed cancer, including 46 with prostate cancer.

Men who consumed the highest amounts of linoleic acid were 45% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their peers who consumed the lowest amounts. High intake of linoleic acid also reduced the risk of other cancers, but the magnitude was not as great as that seen with prostate cancer.

Men with high blood levels of linoleic acid, omega-6 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids were less likely than men with low levels to develop prostate cancer. This held true even after considering other factors that might influence cancer risk, such as obesity and physical activity.

Good sources of linoleic acid include nuts, seeds, borage oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, hemp oil and soybean oil.

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