Higher Omega 3 intake associated with lower colorectal cancer mortality risk

An article published on July 20, 2016 in Gut reports an association between increased intake of marine omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids by colorectal cancer patients and a lower risk of dying from the disease. Marine-derived omega 3 fatty acids include EPA and DHA from oily fish or fish oil supplements.

"Our findings provide the first line of population-based evidence for the benefit of marine omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on colorectal cancer survival," announce authors Minyang Song and colleagues.

The investigation included data from 121,700 women who took part in the Nurses' Health Study and 51,529 male participants in the Health Professionals Follow Up Study. Medical history and lifestyle questionnaires completed every two years provided information concerning cancer diagnoses, and dietary questionnaire responses obtained every four years were analyzed for omega 3 fatty acid content.

Over an average of 10.5 years, 561 deaths occurred among the 1,659 subjects who developed colorectal cancer, among which 169 deaths were attributed to the disease. Those who consumed 300 milligrams (mg) omega 3 fatty acids daily from food or supplements had a 41% lesser risk of mortality from colorectal cancer in comparison with subjects whose intake was less than 100 mg. Participants who increased their marine omega 3 intake by at least 150 mg per day after diagnosis had a 70% lower risk of colorectal cancer mortality than those whose intake remained essentially unchanged.  Those with a higher intake of omega 3 from fish were likelier to use multivitamins, and to consume more vitamin D and fiber. 

"Marine omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake after diagnosis may lower the risk of colorectal cancer-specific mortality," the authors conclude. "Increasing consumption of marine omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after diagnosis may confer additional benefits to patients with colorectal cancer."