Heart-Friendly Fatty Acids Linked to Prostate Cancer

Omega-3, but not trans-fatty acids, associated with increased high-grade prostate cancer risk

TUESDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of the ω-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid may increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer; whereas, high levels of trans-fatty acids (TFAs) may reduce the risk, according to a study published online April 24 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Theodore M. Brasky, Ph.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined the associations between inflammation-related phospholipid fatty acids and seven-year prevalence of prostate cancer in men aged 55 to 84 years who participated in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial between 1994 and 2003. Age, treatment, and family history of prostate cancer were matched for 1,658 patients with prostate cancer and 1,803 controls. Serum concentrations of phospholipid fatty acids (ω-3, ω-6, and TFAs) were expressed as proportions of the total. Odds ratios (ORs) and associations of fatty acids by prostate cancer grade were estimated.

The investigators found no correlation between fatty acids and low-grade prostate cancer risk. A positive association was found between docosahexaenoic acid and high-grade prostate cancer (quartile 4 versus 1: OR, 2.50). A linear and inverse association was found between TFA 18:1 and TFA 18:2 and high-grade prostate cancer (quartile 4 versus 1: OR, 0.55 and 0.48, respectively).

"Our findings are disconcerting, as they suggest that ω-3 fatty acids, considered beneficial for coronary artery disease prevention, may increase high-grade prostate cancer risk, whereas trans-fatty acids, considered harmful, may reduce high-grade prostate cancer risk," the authors write.

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