Fish Oil May Fight Risk of Common Breast Cancers

Taking fish oil supplements could reduce breast cancer risk.

ByABC News
July 7, 2010, 11:08 AM

Jul. 8, 2010— -- Reducing breast cancer risk by nearly a third could be as easy as supplementing your diet with fish oil, new research finds.

Chock full of essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, and Omega-3, fish oil, in food or capsule-form, is often credited with bolstering heart health and brain function, but a new report from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that when taken directly as a supplement, this powerhouse oil may have another trick up its sleeve: cancer prevention.

Researchers questioned over 35,000 postmenopausal women on their use of 15 different supplements -- fish oil included -- and followed these women over the next six years.

Over that time, 880 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. While most of the supplements seemed to have no effect on breast cancer risk, those women who reported current use of fish oil supplements were less likely to develop invasive ductal breast cancer, the most common type of the disease.

"We were interested in looking at the effects of many supplements on several types of cancer," said Emily White, lead author on the report. "The citizens of the United States consume supplements more than any other country, but it seems that many of these supplements don't really do anything."

This is the first study to look specifically at the effects of fish oil supplements on cancer risk, White said, and "in general we've been surprised by our findings."

While researchers suspected that anti-oxidant supplements may play a role in cancer prevention, they were surprised to find that fish oil, an anti-inflammatory supplement, was the only one to show a significant connection to lowered breast cancer risk.

The report was published Wednesday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.