Modulation of omega-3/omega-6 polyunsaturated ratios with dietary fish oils in men with prostate cancer

Urology. 2001 Aug;58(2):283-8. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(01)01116-5.


Objectives: The results of epidemiologic and animal studies support the role of a low-fat diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil in preventing the development and progression of prostate cancer. As a first step in studying the role of a low-fat, fish oil-supplemented (LF/FOS) diet in a clinical setting, we conducted a prospective study in men with untreated prostate cancer to evaluate whether a 3-month dietary intervention affects the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in plasma and gluteal fat. In addition, we evaluated the feasibility of studying cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in serial prostate needle biopsy specimens before and after the diet.

Methods: Nine men with untreated prostate cancer consumed an LF/FOS diet for 3 months. Plasma, gluteal adipose tissue, and prostate needle biopsy specimens were obtained from each patient before and after the intervention. The fatty acid compositions of the plasma and gluteal adipose tissue were determined by gas-liquid chromatography, and the COX-2 expression in the prostatic tissue specimens was determined by semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Results: Short-term intervention with an LF/FOS diet caused a significant increase in the omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratio in plasma (P = 0.002) and gluteal adipose tissue (P = 0.002) in men with prostate cancer. The COX-2 expression in prostatic tissue was quantitated by RT-PCR in 7 of 9 patients, and COX-2 expression decreased in 4 of these 7 patients.

Conclusions: A short-term dietary intervention in men with prostate cancer leads to a significant increase in the omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratios in plasma and adipose tissue. The potential for this diet to prevent the development and progression of prostate cancer by way of altered COX-2 expression and prostaglandin production in prostatic tissue requires further study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Buttocks / pathology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Progression
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen