Background: Animal studies indicate that omega-6 fatty acids promote and omega-3 fatty acids inhibit tumor development. This pilot study was designed to evaluate whether these fatty acids are associated with human prostate cancer.
Methods: Levels of erythrocyte membrane omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids were determined for 67 incident prostate cancer cases and 156 population-based controls.
Results: Prostate cancer risk was increased in the highest compared to the lowest quartile of alpha-linolenic acid (OR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.1-5.8, trend P = 0.01). Positive associations were also observed with higher levels of linoleic acid (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 0.9-4.8) and total omega-6 fatty acids (OR = 2.3, 95% CI = 1.0-5.4).
Conclusions: Results are consistent with other studies showing that linoleic and total omega-6 fatty acids increase risk of prostate cancer. Contrary to animal studies, alpha-linolenic acid was also positively associated with risk. Further research will be required to clarify the role of these fatty acids in human prostate cancer.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.