The association of fatty acids with prostate cancer risk

Prostate. 2001 Jun 1;47(4):262-8. doi: 10.1002/pros.1070.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood*
  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated