Consumption of fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel could reduce the risk of prostate cancer, report the authors of a research letter in this week's issue of The Lancet.
Essential fatty acids -- especially omega-3 fatty acids contained in large amounts in fatty fish -- have previously proved to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Paul Terry and colleagues from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, prospectively assessed over 6,000 Swedish men to establish whether eating fatty fish would reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Participants' lifestyles were assessed by questionnaire, which included questions relating to diet, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and physical activity.
The men were followed up between 1967 and 1997, and prostate cancer incidence and mortality was calculated by linkage to the Swedish National Cancer Register and National Death Register.
During the 30-year follow-up period there were 466 diagnoses of prostate cancer, of which 340 were fatal. The men who ate no fish had a two-fold to three-fold higher risk of prostate cancer than those who ate moderate or high amounts.
Paul Terry comments, "Our study was done in Sweden, a country with traditionally high consumption of fatty fish from Northern (cold) waters, which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
"Since few dietary and other modifiable factors seem to be associated with lower risk of prostate cancer, our results may indicate an important means by which this disease might be prevented."
(Reference: The Lancet, 2nd June 2001)
[Contact: Professor Alicja Wolk]