Background: Laboratory studies have shown that n-3 fatty acids inhibit and n-6 fatty acids stimulate prostate tumor growth, but whether the dietary intake of these fatty acids affects prostate cancer risk in humans remains unclear.
Objective: We prospectively evaluated the association between intakes of alpha-linolenic (ALA; 18:3n-3), eicosapentaenoic (EPA; 20:5n-3), docosahexaenoic (DHA; 22:6n-3), linoleic (LA; 18:2n-6), and arachidonic (AA; 20:4n-6) acids and prostate cancer risk.
Design: A cohort of 47 866 US men aged 40-75 y with no cancer history in 1986 was followed for 14 y.
Results: During follow-up, 2965 new cases of total prostate cancer were ascertained, 448 of which were advanced prostate cancer. ALA intake was unrelated to the risk of total prostate cancer. In contrast, the multivariate relative risks (RRs) of advanced prostate cancer from comparisons of extreme quintiles of ALA from nonanimal sources and ALA from meat and dairy sources were 2.02 (95% CI: 1.35, 3.03) and 1.53 (0.88, 2.66), respectively. EPA and DHA intakes were related to lower prostate cancer risk. The multivariate RRs of total and advanced prostate cancer from comparisons of extreme quintiles of the combination of EPA and DHA were 0.89 (0.77, 1.04) and 0.74 (0.49, 1.08), respectively. LA and AA intakes were unrelated to the risk of prostate cancer. The multivariate RR of advanced prostate cancer from a comparison of extreme quintiles of the ratio of LA to ALA was 0.62 (0.45, 0.86).
Conclusions: Increased dietary intakes of ALA may increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer. In contrast, EPA and DHA intakes may reduce the risk of total and advanced prostate cancer.