According to a new study, a high intake of fatty acids found in fish is associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of breast cancer in later life.
The results show that each 0.1 g per day increment of intake of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish was associated with a 5% reduction in risk. Eating one to two servings peer week of oily fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines would achieve this risk reduction.
The omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA, DPA and DHA. They are involved in chemical messaging in the brain, helping to regulate blood vessel activity and areas of the immune system. The main dietary sources of EPA, DPA and DHA come from oily fish, while ALA is found mainly in nuts, seeds, and other plant foods.
Although omega-3's are the most promising types of fat to reduce cancer risk, results from human studies are inconsistent.
A team of researchers based in China set out to investigate the association between fish and omega-3 fat intake and the risk of breast cancer. Levels were measured from both dietary sources and blood tests.
They reviewed and analyzed the results of 26 studies from the United States, Europe and Asia involving over 800,000 participants and over 20,000 cases of breast cancer.
Omega-3 fats from fish were associated with a 14% reduction of breast cancer between the highest and lowest category of intake. The risk was lowest in Asian populations, probably because fish intake is much higher in Asia than in western countries.
Further analysis indicated a dose response: each 0.1 g per day increment of intake was associated with a 5% reduction in risk. However, no significant protective association was found for ALA, the plant based omega-3 fat.
Source: BJM.com, July 2013
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