New recipes

Omega-3s May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Omega-3s May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Chinese researchers claim that women who consume more fish may lower their risk

Researchers in China are claiming that eating fish could reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Analysis of almost 900,000 participants in 26 international studies has led the researchers to conclude that women who consume more omega-3 fatty acids from fish are 14 percent less likely to contract breast cancer compared to women who ate less.

Researchers tallied their data from both the amount of fish consumed by the participants and the levels of omega-3s in their blood.

The results showed that for each 0.1 gram increase in omega-3s consumed per day the risk of breast cancer was five percent lower.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can be found in some plant products as well as in fish. The scientists say, however, that the omega-3s in plants do not have the same health benefits as those in fish.

While this interpretation shows new positive results, it is by no means the first to cover this topic. A 2009 review of 48 studies declared that it was not certain that consumption of omega-3s could influence the risk of developing cancers. It remains to be seen whether these new findings will prove to be the more accurate.


Omega-3 in fish may reduce breast cancer risk

A large review of studies concludes that women who consume more omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish were at a lower risk of having breast cancer.

The researchers in China analyzed the results of 26 international studies involving almost 900,000 women, including 20,000 who had breast cancer. The scientists found that those women who had the consumed the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish were 14 percent less likely to have breast cancer, compared with those who ate the least.

The results also showed what researchers call a dose-response relationship: each 0.1-gram increase in omega-3 per day was linked with a 5 percent lower risk of having breast cancer. For comparison, a serving of an oily fish such as salmon contains about 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish are those that have high concentrations of omega-3.

Consuming the type of omega-3 found in plants, however, did not appear to reduce the risk.

Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, have been touted for years for their potential benefits in preventing heart disease and cancer. But not all studies have been able to confirm these claims.

Researchers who conducted a large review of 48 studiesin 2009 concluded that it was not clear whether consuming omega-3 fats, in either the diet or by taking supplements, changed a person's risk of heart problems or cancer. However, those reviewers also said that there wasn't enough evidence to recommend that people should stop eating foods that are rich sources of omega-3.

Other studies have suggested that it's not just the amount of omega-3 that one consumes that matters the ratio of omega-3s to other fatty acids in foods is important, too. In a 2002 review study, researchers found that women who consumed a balanced ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s (an unhealthy type of fat) were less likely to develop breast cancer.

In the new analysis, researchers looked at studies that measured omega-3 intake in two different ways either by measuring omega-3 levels with blood tests, or by assessing how much fish people ate.

When looking only at studies that assessed fish diet, the researchers found there was not a significant relationship between eating fish and reduced risk of breast cancer. However, in Asian populations, fish intake did tend to be linked to a lower breast cancer risk, compared with Western populations.

The researchers said perhaps fish intake in Western populations is too low to detect a protective effect against breast cancer.

Other factors may have influenced the findings, too, including differences between sources of omega-3, the researchers said. It is not clear whether eating fish and taking omega-3 supplements have equal benefits.

It is possible too, that other compounds found in fish, such as pesticides and heavy metals from environmental pollution, may reduce the protective effects of omega-3, they said.

The study is published June 27 in the British Medical Journal.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Mushrooms

Eating a serving of fungi a day might help protect you from breast cancer, according to an International Journal of Cancer study. Researchers found that Chinese women who consumed just 10 grams (which is equal to a single, small 'shroom!) or more of fresh mushrooms every day were about two-thirds less likely to develop breast cancer than non-mushroom eaters. High mushroom intake has also been associated with lower risk of breast cancers among premenopausal women. While studies haven't nailed a cause-and-effect relationship between mushrooms and breast health, you'll still be doing your body a favor whenever you add immune-boosting vitamin-D-rich mushrooms to a meal!


New study finds combination of omega-3s in popular supplements may blunt heart benefits

New research from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City finds that higher EPA blood levels alone lowered the risk of major cardiac events and death in patients, while DHA blunted the cardiovascular benefits of EPA. Higher DHA levels at any level of EPA, worsened health outcomes. Credit: Intermountain Healthcare

Doctors often recommend Omega-3s to help patients lower their cholesterol and improve heart health. Those Omega-3s can come from fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, or supplements that often contain a combination of the acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Now, new research from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City finds that higher EPA blood levels alone lowered the risk of major cardiac events and death in patients, while DHA blunted the cardiovascular benefits of EPA. Higher DHA levels at any level of EPA, worsened health outcomes.

Results of the Intermountain study, which examined nearly 1,000 patients over a 10-year-period, will be presented virtually at the 2021 American College of Cardiology's Scientific Session on Monday, May 17.

"The advice to take Omega-3s for the good of your heart is pervasive, but previous studies have shown that science doesn't really back this up for every single omega-3," said Viet T. Le, MPAS, PA, researcher and cardiovascular physician assistant at the Intermountain Heart Institute and principal investigator of the study. "Our findings show that not all Omega-3s are alike, and that EPA and DHA combined together, as they often are in supplements, may void the benefits that patients and their doctors hope to achieve."

In this study, Intermountain researchers used the INSPIRE registry, an Intermountain Healthcare database started in 1993 that has more than 35,000 blood samples from nearly 25,000 patients.

Through INSPIRE, researchers identified 987 patients who underwent their first documented coronary angiographic study at Intermountain Healthcare between 1994 and 2012. From those blood samples, the circulating levels of EPA and DHA in their blood was measured. Researchers then tracked those patients for 10 years, looking for major cardiac adverse events, which included heart attack, stroke, heart failure requiring hospitalization or death.

They found that patients with the highest levels of EPA had reduced risk of major heart events. When evaluating how EPA and DHA affect one another, they found that higher DHA blunts the benefit of EPA. In particular, they also found that those patients with higher levels of DHA than EPA, were more at risk for heart problems.

Le said that these results raise further concerns about the use of combined EPA/DHA, particularly through supplements.

"Based on these and other findings, we can still tell our patients to eat Omega-3 rich foods, but we should not be recommending them in pill form as supplements or even as combined (EPA + DHA) prescription products," he said. "Our data adds further strength to the findings of the recent REDUCE-IT (2018) study that EPA-only prescription products reduce heart disease events."


Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important nutrients involved in many body activities, especially immune system responses. Your body doesn't produce omega-3 fatty acids and must get them from the food you eat.

Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), which can lead to sudden cardiac death. Omega-3 fatty acids also slow the growth of plaque in arteries and reduce levels of the unhealthy type of cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins) and triglycerides in your blood.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a good source of lignans — compounds that may have a weak estrogen effect. When a weak estrogen-like substance takes the place of your body’s natural strong estrogen in a breast cell’s estrogen receptor, then the weak substance can act as a relative anti-estrogen. By acting in this way, lignans might help work against breast cancer that depends on estrogen for its growth. But research so far on whether omega-3 fatty acids affect breast cancer risk has shown no conclusive association.

The highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids are found in coldwater fish, such as sardines, salmon, herring, tuna, cod, mackerel, halibut, and shark. These fatty acids are also found in lower concentrations in plant foods such as flaxseed, walnuts, Great Northern beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and soybeans. Some registered dietitians recommend eating a diet rich in fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids or eating 1 or 2 teaspoons of flaxseed every day.

But eating fish has become more of a health concern. Many fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids caught in the wild also have high levels of mercury and other environmental pollutants. Research on farm-raised salmon (the most popular farm-raised fish) found that it had higher levels of toxins (other than mercury) than fish caught in the wild. The levels of toxins in other types of wild fish compared to those in farm-raised fish aren't known. Some waters are probably safer than others for wild fish, and some farms are likely to be more health-conscious than others. For now, experts recommend varying the type of fish you eat to reduce the risk of eating too many contaminants. They also recommend eating wild-caught fish about twice a week and farm-raised salmon only about once a month.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Risk in Obese Postmenopausal Women

Omega-3 fatty acids are important nutrients involved in many body activities, especially immune system responses. Your body doesn't produce omega-3 fatty acids and must get them from the food you eat. The highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids are found in coldwater fish, such as sardines, salmon, herring, tuna, cod, mackerel, halibut, and shark. These fatty acids are also found in lower concentrations in plant foods such as flaxseed, walnuts, Great Northern beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and soybeans.

A study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of breast cancer in obese postmenopausal women.

The research was published in the February 2016 issue of Cancer Prevention Research. Read the abstract of “Influence of obesity on breast density reduction by omega-3 fatty acids: Evidence from a randomized clinical trial.”

The researchers think the reduction in risk is caused by the omega-3 fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory properties.

Obese women have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause. Researchers think this is partially because being overweight can lead to chronic inflammation. In chronic inflammation, the immune system is working overtime and may not know when to stop. The overload of certain cells and proteins can damage cells and tissues and change the way they function. This includes changes that may cause normal cells to turn into cancer cells.

In this study, 266 postmenopausal women with dense breasts who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer were randomly assigned to one of five treatments:

  • no treatment
  • Evista (chemical name: raloxifene), 60 mg per day
  • Evista, 30 mg per day
  • Lovaza (chemical name: omega3-acid ethyl esters), 4 gm per day
  • 4 gm of Lovaza plus 30 mg of Evista per day

Evista is a type of hormonal therapy medicine used to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk postmenopausal women. Evista also is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Lovaza is a prescription form of omega-3 fatty acids. It contains both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish.

Dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more non-fatty tissue compared to breasts that aren't dense. Dense breasts have more gland tissue that makes and drains milk and supportive tissue (also called stroma) that surrounds the gland. Research has shown that dense breasts:

  • can be twice as likely to develop cancer as nondense breasts
  • can make it harder for mammograms to detect breast cancer breast cancers (which look white like breast gland tissue) are easier to see on a mammogram when they're surrounded by fatty tissue (which looks dark)

The researchers measured the women’s breast density at the beginning of the study and then again 2 years later, at the end of the study.

The results showed that as levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood went up, breast density went down, but only in women with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 29. The U.S. National Institutes of Health says a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight and a BMI of 30 and higher is obese.

Although Lovaza contains both EPA and DHA, only DHA blood levels were linked to lower breast density.

“Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, so that's one of the reasons why we suspected it may be particularly effective in obese women," said Dr. Andrea Manni, professor and division chief of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Manni was the lead author of the study.

Some earlier research supports the idea that omega-3 fatty acids protect against breast cancer, but the results have been mixed. Dr. Manni theorized that results from normal-weight women were clouding the results.

The researchers plan to test the effect of just DHA in obese women, possibly in combination with a weight loss program, in a future study.

"The finding supports the idea that omega-3s, and specifically DHA, are preferentially protective in obese postmenopausal women," Dr. Manni said. "This represents an example of a personalized approach to breast cancer prevention."

If you’ve gained quite a bit of weight after menopause and have dense breasts, you may want to talk to doctors about this study and whether an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may be right for your unique situation. You also may want to talk to your doctor about developing a safe and sensible plan to lose weight.

Losing weight can be harder as you get older, but it can be done with careful changes to your diet and regular exercise. The first thing to do is to talk to your doctor about a healthy weight for you based on your age, height, body type, and activity level. Next, talk to your doctor about a safe and sensible plan to lose weight designed specifically for you and your needs.

Once you have the OK from your doctor and a weight goal, you can create a healthy eating plan that meets your nutritional needs. You may want to talk to a registered dietitian about how to create a healthy eating plan that's tailored to your specific needs and likes.

If you're unable to work directly with a registered dietitian, you have some other options. Computer programs and online tools can help you further analyze what you eat. They go beyond whether or not you're getting enough of a specific nutrient. Some of them might even make recommendations about how much of specific foods you should eat per day and track your eating and nutrient patterns over time.

Exercise is such an important part of daily life that the United States Department of Agriculture said that all people should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in the Appendix of the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Regular exercise helps reduce breast cancer risk.

There's no magic bullet or single food that will make you lose weight quickly. In fact, the safest way to lose weight is to do it slowly -- about a pound a week.

The United States Department of Agriculture 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend:

  • getting less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars
  • getting less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats
  • eating less than 2,300 mg per day of salt

The guidelines also recommend eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups, including:


Study: Certain Omega-3 Acids May Decrease Cardiovascular Benefits of Others

Higher levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the blood lower the risk of major cardiac events and death in patients, although docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) decreased the cardiovascular benefits of EPA, according to a study presented at the 2021 American College of Cardiology's Scientific Session. Supplements for Omega-3s often contain both EPA and DHA. According to the researchers, higher DHA levels at any level of EPA worsened health outcomes.

The study examined 987 patients over a period of 10 years using the INSPIRE registry, an Intermountain Healthcare database started in 1993 that has more than 35,000 blood samples from nearly 25,000 patients. The patients analyzed underwent their first documented coronary angiographic study at Intermountain Healthcare between 1994 and 2012. The circulating levels of EPA and DHA in their blood was measured from these samples. Over the 10 years of the study, the researchers tracked the participants, looking for major cardiac adverse events, which included heart attack, stroke, or heart failure requiring hospitalization or death.

The study also found that patients with higher levels of DHA than EPA were more at risk for heart problems.

“The advice to take Omega-3s for the good of your heart is pervasive, but previous studies have shown that science doesn't really back this up for every single omega-3,” said Viet T. Le, MPAS, PA, investigator and cardiovascular physician assistant at the Intermountain Heart Institute, in a press release. “Our findings show that not all Omega-3s are alike, and that EPA and DHA combined together, as they often are in supplements, may void the benefits that patients and their doctors hope to achieve.”

According to the researchers, these results raise concerns about the combined usage of EPA and DHA, specifically through supplements.

“Based on these and other findings, we can still tell our patients to eat Omega-3 rich foods, but we should not be recommending them in pill form as supplements or even as combined (EPA + DHA) prescription products,” Le said in the release. “Our data adds further strength to the findings of the recent REDUCE-IT (2018) study that EPA-only prescription products reduce heart disease events.”


Omega-3s Reduce Breast Cancer Risk Factors

WASHINGTON, DC – Daily supplementation with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids markedly reduces breast tissue hyperplasia and key biomarkers for breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women, according to a report presented at the recent meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).

Dr. Carol Fabian, director of the Breast Cancer Prevention Center, University of Kansas presented two small studies evaluating the effect of omega-3s on cytologic hyperplasia with atypia in breast tissue, one in a group of 36 pre-menopausal women, and another in a group of 35 post-menopausal women. In both studies, all women were considered to be at high risk for developing breast cancer.

After 6 months of daily supplementation with 4 g of omega-3s, both groups showed a significant reduction of atypia. Before the study, the incidence of atypia was 70%. By the end of the study period, this had decreased to 44%.

Taking the two study cohorts combined, 2 of the 71 subjects discontinued before conclusion, and 7 reported gastrointestinal side effects of grade two or higher, Dr. Fabian reported.

“Studies of the use of omega-3 fatty acids in human beings are just now getting underway in terms of preventing cancer,” she said, explaining that recent advances in the use of genomics to identify those at high risk for cancer have contributed a great deal to the research.

“There is a huge interest in this area in the research community, because a part of the public would much rather take a natural product or behavioral intervention than get a prescription for a drug. Of women who do not have breast cancer but are at high risk, probably less than 5% will take a pharmaceutical like tamoxifen to help prevent cancer, even though it reduces the risk by 50% in high-risk women,” said Dr. Fabian.

“On the other hand, they are probably much more likely to take a natural product, but it may only reduce the risk by 15 to 20%. It’s much better if the entire population actually takes something (that reduces the risk by 20%) rather than only 2% of the population taking something that reduces the risk by 50%. And if omega-3s also reduce heart disease, which is very common in older people, that’s a two-fer,” she explained.

She noted that the dose needed to modulate breast cancer risk would very likely confer a cardiovascular benefit. “Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be helpful in preventing heart disease, when given in doses of up to 500 mg per day, but we think the doses necessary to prevent cancer would be much higher,” said Fabian, who is also presenting an education session on natural products for chemoprevention at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago this June.

She admits that the theme of her ASCO session is a bit misleading. “Chemoprevention is actually a bad term. We’re trying to prevent cancers with natural products, as opposed to drugs like Tamoxifen. So this is really primary prevention of cancer.”

Primary Prevention

In addition to reducing pre-cancerous tissue changes in the breast, omega-3 supplementation may also be able to reduce the risk of colon cancer, as was reported in a 2010 study published in the journal, Gut, and a more recent trial in the British Medical Journal in 2012.

Both studies looked at the effect of omega-3s in reducing a condition called familial adenomatous polyposis, a rare disease in which people get many polyps, which are precursors to colon cancer, Dr. Fabian explained.

Other natural products that seem to reduce cancer risk include vitamin D and lignans. “We think taking moderate to high doses may reduce the risk by at least 20% or more,” said Fabian, who noted that the largest study is currently underway. It looks at lignans alone in preventing breast cancer in high-risk pre-menopausal women. Dr. Fabian’s group at the University of Kansas is accruing about 220 patients for this multi-center study that will probably not be complete until 2015.

She believes there is a bright future in the incorporation of natural products for mitigating cancer risk. “We have to define how these things work, the doses, and we need to know the populations in whom they’re going to work best.”


Omega-3 in Fish May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

A large review of studies concludes that women who consume more omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish were at a lower risk of having breast cancer.

The researchers in China analyzed the results of 26 international studies involving almost 900,000 women, including 20,000 who had breast cancer. The scientists found that those women who had the consumed the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish were 14 percent less likely to have breast cancer, compared with those who ate the least.

The results also showed what researchers call a dose-response relationship: each 0.1-gram increase in omega-3 per day was linked with a 5 percent lower risk of having breast cancer. For comparison, a serving of an oily fish such as salmon contains about 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish are those that have high concentrations of omega-3.

Consuming the type of omega-3 found in plants, however, did not appear to reduce the risk.

Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, have been touted for years for their potential benefits in preventing heart disease and cancer. But not all studies have been able to confirm these claims.

Researchers who conducted a large review of 48 studiesin 2009 concluded that it was not clear whether consuming omega-3 fats, in either the diet or by taking supplements, changed a person's risk of heart problems or cancer. However, those reviewers also said that there wasn't enough evidence to recommend that people should stop eating foods that are rich sources of omega-3.

Other studies have suggested that it's not just the amount of omega-3 that one consumes that matters —the ratio of omega-3s to other fatty acids in foods is important, too. In a 2002 review study, researchers found that women who consumed a balanced ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s (an unhealthy type of fat) were less likely to develop breast cancer.

In the new analysis, researchers looked at studies that measured omega-3 intake in two different ways either by measuring omega-3 levels with blood tests, or by assessing how much fish people ate.

When looking only at studies that assessed fish diet, the researchers found there was not a significant relationship between eating fish and reduced risk of breast cancer. However, in Asian populations, fish intake did tend to be linked to a lower breast cancer risk, compared with Western populations.

The researchers said perhaps fish intake in Western populations is too low to detect a protective effect against breast cancer.

Other factors may have influenced the findings, too, including differences between sources of omega-3, the researchers said. It is not clear whether eating fish and taking omega-3 supplements have equal benefits.

It is possible too, that other compounds found in fish, such as pesticides and heavy metals from environmental pollution, may reduce the protective effects of omega-3, they said.

The study is published today (June 27) in the British Medical Journal.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Omega-3s Can Halt Breast Cancer Growth

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

One of the most famous nutrients in the world may help breast cancer patients shut their tumors down. A health breakthrough has found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can stop the growth of breast cancer tumors by 30%.

This may be the first time we have unequivocal evidence that omega-3s reduce the risk of cancer. What the study shows is that lifelong exposure to omega-3s (so, basically eating fish every week for a long time) can actually prevent breast cancer.

Doctors Health Press has long claimed that the right foods can protect against cancer, including that of the breast, one of the world’s most common tumors. But there has been a surprising lack of studies to specifically address this issue. It can be tough to design a study that can measure this properly, which led these researchers to conduct a study comparing mice with breast cancer, to mice who had breast cancer but also produced omega-3s.

Mice producing omega-3s developed only two-thirds as many tumors – and those tumors were 30% smaller – as the control group. The study design, while in mice, proves that omega-3s may be the best nutrient to fight breast cancer. The researchers believe that the results might have big-time implications in breast cancer prevention.

The health sky is the limit for omega-3s. They are up there with vitamin D and probiotics, as the nutrients that might have extraordinary powers against disease. The best health advice is to try and aim for at least two servings of fatty fish a week.