Omega-3 PUFA: good or bad for prostate cancer?

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008 Sep-Nov;79(3-5):97-9. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2008.09.006. Epub 2008 Oct 23.


Introduction: The objective of this meta-analysis was to estimate quantitatively the associations between intake or status of omega-3 polyunsaturated (omega-3 PUFA) fatty acids and occurrence of prostate cancer in observational studies in humans.

Methods: We combined risk estimates across studies using random-effects models.

Results: The combined estimate showed an increased risk of prostate cancer in men with a high intake or blood level of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (combined relative risk (RR) 1.36; 95% CI 1.08-1.70). The association is stronger in the case-control studies (RR 1.84; 95% CI 1.04-3.25) than in the prospective studies (RR 1.10; 0.91-1.32). Ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were not significantly associated with prostate cancer.

Discussion: The association between high intake of ALA and prostate cancer is of concern and needs further study. However, the fact that the prospective studies do not show a clear association makes a true effect of intake of ALA on prostate cancer less likely.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / blood


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids