Omega-3 Fatty Acids From Oily Fish Enhance Colon Cancer Survival Rate

A new study has found that higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, mainly from oily fish help colon cancer patients with higher survival rates. The study – led by Dr. Andrew Chan, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston – said consumption of at least 0.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish per day by the patients after their colon cancer was detected reduces the risk of death from the disease by 41 percent as compared to those who consumed less than 0.1 gram per day.

The study was published online July 19 in the journal Gut.

More intake, better survival chances
The study also added that after a colon cancer was diagnosed, if the omega-3 intake is being increased by at least 0.15 grams per day the risk of dying is further reduced to 70 percent and contrastingly, reduction in daily intake means 10 percent higher risk of death from the disease. The risk reduction was associated with omega-3 sourced from both food and fish oil supplements, but supplements were also used by a few of the patients.

During the follow-up studies 561 patients died
The study further said that the relationship between marine omega-3 and lower risk of death from colon cancer was particularly strong for patients, who did not take aspirin regularly and with taller and relatively thin body physique. During the study, almost 1,700 American adults with colon cancer was observed and the benefit of more omega-3 intake was found in colon cancer patients. During the follow-up study, ranging 10 years, 561 of the patients died.

This study goes a step ahead
According to one colon cancer expert, the new findings weren’t surprising. According to Dr. Jules Garbus, a colorectal surgeon at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. ” The experts had long back suspected the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and now this study has, going a step ahead shown a link between ‘healthy living’ and reducing death from colorectal cancer.”

All colon cancer experts not convinced
But all the colon cancer experts were not impressed, who stressed for the collection of more data for proper confirmation of the results. According to Dr. Arun Swaminath, the Director of  inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, omega-3 intake study data came from “food frequency questionnaires,” and hence not much reliable. In fact such category studies have significant weaknesses and some have even asked, why such studies should not be abandoned altogether.

Earlier such theories have been punctured
Although, it is not clear if this study falls in the same category as previous ones but similar studies related to fish oil and subsequent heart health were initially welcomed until more rigorous subsequent studies “punctured the theory saying that fish oil was good medicine for heart patients,” he said.

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