There is an ecological association between total and animal fat consumption and colorectal and breast cancer risk. Mortality data for breast and colorectal cancer for 24 European countries correlated, as expected, with the consumption of animal, but not vegetable, fat. There was an inverse correlation with fish and fish oil consumption, when expressed as a proportion of total or animal fat, and this correlation was significant for both male and female colorectal cancer and for female breast cancer, whether the intakes were in the current time period, or 10 years or 23 years before cancer mortality. These effects were only seen in countries with a high ( > 85 g caput-1 day-1) animal fat intake. This evidence suggests that fish oil consumption is associated with protection against the promotional effects of animal fat in colorectal and breast carcinogenesis.