Eating oily fish regularly ‘can significantly cut risk of prostate death’
Those who consume high levels of omega-3 are 34 to 40 per cent less likely to die from disease Men over 50 more likely to develop a tumour, and there is a strong genetic element to it
PUBLISHED: 01:35, 19 July 2012
A diet rich in oily fish can significantly improve prostate cancer victims’ chances of surviving the disease, research shows.
The findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed sufferers who regularly ate the highest amounts of omega-3 fish oil were between 34 and 40 per cent less likely to die from the disease, which kills 10,000 men every year in the UK.
The long-term study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston also found the patients who consumed the highest amounts of saturated fats were twice as likely to die from their tumour as those who ate smaller amounts.
The US scientists tracked 525 men who had an average age of 70 and signed up to the study in 1989.
By last year, 222 had died from prostate cancer and 268 from other causes.
Nearly 40,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK and 10,000 men die from it – the equivalent of more than one an hour.
The risks increase with age, with men over 50 more likely to develop a tumour, and there is a strong genetic element to it.
As with some other types of cancer, diet is thought to be a key factor in the development of the disease.
To see exactly how different types of fat affect survival, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA, tracked 525 men from Orebro County in Sweden who had signed up to a long-term study back in 1989 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
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At the time, the men, who had an average age of 70, were quizzed on their dietary habits, including consumption of different types of fats.
For the next 20 years, all the men were followed up to monitor survival rates.
The results showed that, by March 2011, 222 of the men had died from prostate cancer and 268 from other causes.
When the researchers compared the causes of death with dietary habits they found the men who regularly ate fish with high oil content were between 34 and 40 per cent less likely to have died from their prostate cancer.
In a report on their findings the researchers said diet appears to have a powerful effect on tumours that are in the early stages of development.
‘Fish consumption may have a modest protective effect on prostate cancer risk and progression, as well as disease-specific mortality.
‘These results suggest early stage tumours may be more responsive to dietary factors and that diet may influence prognosis following a diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer.’
Last year’s study, carried out at the University of California at Los Angeles, found fish oil reduced the number of rapidly dividing cells in the prostate cancer tissue, potentially reducing the chances of the disease spreading to other parts of the body.