Minerva

Something fishy about fish oils and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1555 (Published 19 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1555

Fish oils are most marvellous things. They are widely praised for their cardioprotective properties, but a cohort study of 70 495 people from Washington State, followed up for four to six years, suggests that they are even better at preventing cancer (American Journal of Epidemiology 2014, doi:10.1093/aje/kwt326). Nay, they can prevent death itself: higher combined intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from diet and supplements was associated with a decreased risk of total mortality (hazard ratio 0.82, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.93) and death from cancer (0.77, 0.64 to 0.92) but only a small reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease (0.87, 0.68 to 1.10).

But wait a minute: it depends on what cancer you are talking about. Fish oils may actually promote cancer of the endometrium, according to the same VITamins And Lifestyle cohort study (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014 doi:10.3945/ajcn.070524). Women in the highest compared with the lowest fifth of dietary eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid intake had a 79% …

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