High intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish linked to improved cancer survival

If you’re a colorectal cancer survivor, eating more fish might help you live longer. Dietary information was collected at least 1-year after diagnosis from 1659 colorectal cancer survivors enrolled in either the Nurse’s Health Study or the Health Professional’s Follow-up Study. Survivors were followed for roughly 10 years during which time 561 deaths were reported, with 169 of these deaths due to colorectal cancer.

Compared with survivors who ate less than 0.1 grams per day of marine-based omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentanoic and docosahexanoic acids), those who ate at least 0.3 g/day had a 41% lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer. Those who increased their intake after diagnosis by at least 0.15 g/day had a 70% lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer. It is important to note that the vast majority (77%) of the individuals who had higher intakes of marine-based fatty acids achieved these levels from dietary sources alone, i.e., from their food, and not through supplements. No associations were found between marine-based fatty acid intake levels and other causes of death.

What does this information mean to you, or how can you use it?

So how much fish do you have to eat to get 0.3 grams? It all depends on the fish. Salmon, mackerel and tuna tend to have the highest levels, with 1.0-1.5 g per 3 oz. portion. Sardines, trout, swordfish, oysters and mussels have 0.5 – 1.0 g per 3 oz. portion. So if you eat 2-3 fish meals a week you should be able to achieve the amount of marine-based fatty acids reported in this study. The additional benefit is that you are avoiding many red meat meals in your efforts to eat more fish – whether that’s the real reason behind the benefits of fish is unknown – but choosing broiled salmon over steak seems like the way to go.



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