Intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and risk of basal and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin: a longitudinal community-based study in Australian adults

Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(7):982-90. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2012.713540. Epub 2012 Sep 13.


Intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may modify the risk of basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (BCC and SCC), but population-based evidence is limited and inconsistent. We examined prospectively associations between intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids estimated from food frequency questionnaires and BCC and SCC incidence among 1322 randomly selected adults in Nambour, Australia. Relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated based on histologically confirmed tumors diagnosed between 1997 and 2007. Incidence of BCC was lowest in the middle third of both total omega-6 intake (RR(mv.adj) = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.56-0.97) and linoleic acid intake (RR(mv.adj) = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.57-0.99) compared with the lowest third of intake. Evidence for associations with SCC was weak, though persons with arachidonic acid intake in the middle third had a marginally increased risk of SCC (RR(mv.adj) = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.00-2.02). Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids was not associated with subsequent skin cancer risk. Suggestion that intake of arachidonic acid may be associated with increased SCC incidence and total omega-6 with reduced BCC from our study is still highly uncertain and may be due to chance. These data do not support an association between these fatty acids and risk of BCC or SCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6