Yep, it's that time of year again, when a group of researchers tries to challenge the status quo. Good for them. However, the takeaway summary of the findings has no connection to the actual findings. Shocker.
Headlines read "Fish Oil May Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer." Based on a study published on July 11th in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute, sensationalism is sweeping the media. And of course this makes total sense because prostate cancer is out of control in Okinawa, the Mediterranean and among Arctic Natives who have a diet with 100 times more fish oil than the rest of us. Oh wait, those people have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer in the history of mankind.
So what's going on? It's the classic case of find a correlation, make an inductive leap and then draw the line of causation the wrong way. It's been happening with cholesterol, red meat, and Fish oil. However, this isn't the first time fish oil has come under scrutiny. About a year ago a study found that fish oil doesn't work because "high risk cardiovascular disease individuals aren't magically cured when they take ultra low fish oil intake for six months." Again, shocker.
So back to the subject. It's simple really. Whenever humans are in a growth cycle, they make more Omega3s. Yes, that's right, we make Omega3s. It's not entirely clear if this is to help with homeostasis (countering inflammation with anti-inflammation) or if it's to improve sheaths and cell membranes as they grow. Either way, whenever your body grows, whether taller, bigger, stronger, pregnant or tumorous, you're likely to see a statistically significant increase in Omega3s.
What the actual study measured was, among men with prostate cancer, did their bodies have higher Omega3 blood serum levels? Yes. Some did. This is not a surprise as the body will automatically do this. It has nothing to do with what their consumption of fish oil was, or if some genetic mutations could take fish oil and use it to create a cancer.
To maybe put it in better perspective, certain cancers also cause increased blood serum levels of antibodies. Does this mean that vitamin C gives you prostate cancer? These headlines would have you think so.