Prostate cancer risk and consumption of fish oils: a dietary biomarker-based case-control study

Br J Cancer. 1999 Dec;81(7):1238-42. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6690835.


Experimental studies suggest that the risk of prostate cancer is reduced with the intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from marine foods, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). However, few human studies have been conducted due to difficulties in assessing the dietary intake of these fatty acids. The authors examined the relationship between prostate cancer risk and EPA and DHA in erythrocyte biomarkers in a population-based case-control study in Auckland, New Zealand during 1996-1997 involving 317 prostate cancer cases and 480 age-matched community controls. Reduced prostate cancer risk was associated with high erythrocyte phosphatidylcholine levels of EPA (multivariate relative risk = 0.59; 95% confidence interval 0.37-0.95, upper vs lowest quartile) and DHA (multivariate relative risk = 0.62; 95% confidence interval 0.39-0.98, upper vs lowest quartile). These analyses support evidence from in vitro experiments for a reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with dietary fish oils, possibly acting via inhibition of arachidonic acid-derived eicosanoid biosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid