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Colon Cancer Risks May Be Reduced by Omega-3 Fatty Acids, According to Study

Published on , Last Updated on June 11, 2013

Man With Colon Cancer

A preliminary investigation into the connection between Omega-3 Fatty acids and colon cancer, shows that there may be a surprisingly strong positive link between the two in some population groups, but not others.

About the Study & Its Unusual Findings

Using a population derived test sample of just over 1,500 white participants (about half with colon cancer and half without) and smaller comparison sample of about 370 black participants (also split with and without cancer), researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle (NIEHS) in North Carolina, found an especially strong correlation between the consumption of Omega-3 Fatty acids and reduced rates of colon cancer, especially in individuals of European ancestry.

Participants were asked to give details regarding their dietary habits for a 12 month period via a series of questionnaires with an emphasis on consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

Overall the research team noted an almost 40 percent reduction of cancer rates among white people who consumed high quantities of the fat. Much to the surprise of the investigators, the same correlation was not observed in the black population subgroup.

In light of these odd but encouraging results, the researchers behind the study remain optimistic that, with additional investigation, the source of omega-3’s ability to help prevent cancer will be more fully understood. They also caution that this is one of first studies of its kind to investigate the connection between long-chain fatty acids and colon cancer, and that more information is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made regarding their potential benefits as a preventative and an individuals racial background.

Dr. Sangmi Kim, Ph.D:

“Experimental data have shown benefits of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in colorectal carcinogenesis, ranging from reduced tumor growth, suppression of angiogenesis and inhibition of metastasis. Our finding of inverse association between dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and distal large bowel cancer in white participants adds additional support to the hypothesis. This finding warrants future study… An increase in dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which mainly come from fish and seafood, may be beneficial in the prevention of distal large bowel cancer.” [1]

More Information About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

“Omega-3” is an umbrella term used describe a family of unsaturated fatty acids that contain similar carbon-carbon double bonds.

Dietary accessible forms of omega-3 include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and a-linolenic acid (ALA). These can be found in a number of readily foodstuffs including eggs and many types of fish (and other seafood).

Some vegetarian sources for Omega-3’s include many nuts and seeds, as well as flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, sesame oil, avocados, green leafy vegetables, goats milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk and Hemp Milk.

Extensive research has been conducted into the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and health. If consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet, they are believed to significantly reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer, as well as heart disease. They are also thought to reduce some forms of inflammation and promote immune and brain function.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM


  1. American Association for Cancer Research. Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of colon cancer. AACR Press Releases. 2009 December 7.

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Posted In: Clinical Studies,Colon Health,Colon Health Blog
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