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July 26, 2016 | 3 minute read

Study, omega-3s from fish and lower mortality from colorectal cancer

A recent study finds an intriguing connection between omega-3 fatty acids from fish and survival of colorectal cancer, the third most common and third deadliest cancer.

There is a lot of research on cancer prevention and omega-3 fatty acids, which come from fatty fish along with plant foods sources — like walnuts and flaxseed. This study focused on omega-3s from fish and cancer survivorship.

Garlic Salmon with Black Bean Sauce: Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography

Garlic Salmon with Black Bean Sauce: Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography

The study used dietary information that had been collected from 1,659 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer who were from two large groups of health professionals. Data was gathered before diagnosis and again at least one year after diagnosis. Participants were grouped into one of four categories based on how much omega-3 fatty acids they had reported consuming from fish or supplements. Only 7.5 percent reported using supplements.

Results showed a positive trend between higher intake of fish omega-3 fats and a lower risk of death from colorectal cancer. Also, participants had a lower risk of colorectal cancer-specific death if they increased their intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish by at least 150 milligrams daily –about an ounce — when compared to those who did not change their intake after diagnosis. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 8 ounces of fish per week. There was no link between mortality overall with seafood’s omega-3 intake. Still, more research is needed on this new link. This study is limited to a small sample of health professionals, meaning that the results may not apply to the general public.

While we have a lot to learn about the benefits of fish’ omega-3 fatty acids and cancer survivorship, we know that fish fits well in a healthy diet. It’s a great low-calorie, protein rich option to replace red and processed meats, which raise your risk of colorectal cancer.

To add more nutrient-dense fish to your diet, try this Roasted Salmon Potato Salad for your next dinner. For more on reducing risk of colorectal cancer, visit here.

This work was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Project P Fund for Colorectal Cancer Research, The Friends of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Bennett Family Fund and the Entertainment Industry Foundation through National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance.

Kaila Schoenberger is an Education & Communication Intern at AICR. She is an MPH/RD candidate from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She believes in preventing cancer by encouraging simple ways for people to eat well and be active.

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