According to a large survey study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, taking fish oil supplements may have a protective effect against breast cancer for postmenopausal women.
The study used data from a very large survey of women in western Washington, who filled out questionnaires between 2000 and 2002 about their diet, supplement intake, exercise routines and general health. The analysis included more than 35,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 76 who didn’t have breast cancer at the start of the survey. By the end of 2007, 880 of these women had developed breast cancer.
Women who reported taking fish oil from the start of the study were about half as likely to develop ductal carcinoma of the breast, the most common form of breast cancer, during the follow-up years. Women taking fish oil showed no reduced risk of the less-common lobular breast cancer.
How fish oil might prevent cancer remains unknown, but inflammation — linked to cancer by many researchers — may play a crucial role. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which inhibit a major inflammatory molecule in the body, a compound called nuclear factor kappa-B.
The study was published in the July, 2010 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
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