Is Fish Oil Bad?

Recently, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (July 2013) raised concerns that an increase of plasma Omega-3 fatty acid levels in the blood may contribute to an increased risk of prostate cancer. This is in direct opposition to many, many studies which have found these healthy fats to help prevent cancer. Until this study, there’s been a consistent train of research showing that DHA levels in the blood drastically decreased the risk of prostate cancer!

Once again, unless you do your due diligence in evaluating the study, you are left confused. Researchers know you will only read the summary of the study, and not analyze it; therefore, broad-based headline “results” are more powerful than the actual findings.

In the study, they measured only one physiologic marker – DHA plasma levels. That in of itself does not constitute causation, because other factors must also be factored in. The study didn’t even assess the participant’s intake of fish or fish oil supplementation!

Although consuming DHA can definitely boost your serum levels, elevated DHA doesn’t necessarily mean you’re consuming too many fish oils. Other habits can also effect it: diets too low in fats, sugar consumption (which includes alcohol), and a diet containing trans-fats and vegetable fats also can elevate serum DHA levels. Also, the researchers looked at fatty acid levels as percentages rather than the more accurate absolute concentrations.

In the study, several elements that could very well have affected the outcome, but were not factored in, include: 53% of the prostate cancer subjects were smokers, 64% regularly consumed alcohol, 30% had close family history of prostate cancer, and 80% were overweight or obese. This says nothing of other dietary detriments.

Since many studies have shown gross benefits of fish oil supplementation (including prevention of prostate cancer), the above referenced study seems a little fishy to me!

Fish oils have been classified as a “sacred elixir” from time immemorial. Nearly every indigenous society has included fish oils as essential in pre-conception, pregnancy, children’s health and especially for healthy brains. Modern day research has also revealed many benefits such as the anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the need for painkillers in people with rheumatoid arthritis; it is cardinal to vitamin D which has been powerfully linked to breast cancer protection.

Fats are needed for building the brain and nerves, repair, communication, hormones, etc. Omega-3 fats have a profound nourishing influence for healthy brain chemistry, especially in emotional health. Studies have shown direct correlations between essential fatty acid deficiency and depression, anxiety, memory loss, violent behaviors and some severe psychiatric disorders. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of these fats.

Having said all this, not all fish oils are the same. Many fish oils have been bleached, deodorized, pasteurized and chemicalized to meet increasing demands for “tasty” oils, and cost reduction. These factors can also influence the benefits vs. disadvantages.

But for now, I personally am confident in the benefits of high quality fish oils, and plan to keep my husband, sons and grandsons on them!

© 2013 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

Recent Articles & Podcasts

Let's Solve This Puzzle Together!

At Vital Health we help people find clarity regarding the root causes of their health challenges and provide step-by-step guidance on what to do, and when to do it, in order to restore health naturally.