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Fish Oil Pills Associated with Increased Prostate Cancer Risk

Men with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids from taking fish oil pills or eating too much fatty fish had a 71 percent increased risk for high-grade prostate cancer: the kind most likely to spread and kill (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, July 11, 2013). They also had a 43 percent increased risk for all prostate cancers.

This agrees with results from a large European study and another previous study from the same authors. The study, known as the SELECT (the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial), also found that vitamin E raised prostate cancer risk; while selenium had no effect whatever. Alan Kristal, a senior author of the paper, states: ""We've shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful."

Fish Oil Pills Have Not Been Shown to Prevent Heart Attacks

Fish oil pills increase blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol that increases risk for heart attacks (Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, September 22, 2011). Before the bad LDL cholesterol can form plaques that plug arteries, it must be converted to another form called oxidized LDL cholesterol. Taking extra fish oils causes the body to form a type of LDL cholesterol that is unusually susceptible to forming oxidized LDL plaques (Journal of the Formosan Medical Association, Sept, 1997;96(9):718-726). A study of more than 12,500 people who had atherosclerosis or multiple heart attack risk factors found that taking one gram of fish oil pills per day for five years did not reduce death rates or admissions to the hospital for heart attacks (The New England Journal of Medicine, May 9, 2013). Daily omega-3 fatty acid pills did not reduce risk for heart attacks or strokes in 12,611 patients with high blood sugar levels (Annals of Internal Medicine, October 4, 2012). A review of 20 studies shows that fish oil pills do not reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes (Journal of the American Medical Association, September 12, 2012;308:1024-1033).

Fish Oil Pills Do Not Prevent or Control Metabolic Syndrome

Taking 1.7 g per day of fish oil omega-3 fatty acid pills for four weeks did not improve arterial health, inflammation, or metabolic syndrome in overweight young adults (Nutrition Journal, April 8, 2013;12(1):40). Thirty-five per cent of Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic condition that increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, and dementia.

Why Eat Fish Instead of Taking Fish Oil Pills?

It is possible that it is not the omega-3s in fish that prevent heart attacks, but rather some as yet unknown interaction of fish oils with other nutrients in fish, such as Vitamin D, iodine or selenium.

My previous reports on fish oil pills:

Fish Oil Pills Do Not Reduce Heart Attack Risk (second article)

Fish, but Not Fish Oil Pills, Reduce Heart Attack Risk (third article)

Eating Fish, but Not Fish Oil Pills, Cuts Stroke Risk (third article)

Fish Oil Pills Not Shown to Prevent Diseases or Deaths

Eat Fish; Forget About Fish Oil Pills (third article)

Can you take too many fish oil pills? (third article)

Reports from

Benefits of fruits

Fructose may cause IBS

Prostate cancer treatment

New Colon Cancer Risk Factor: Sugary Foods

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that the consumption of sodas, cakes, biscuits, snacks and desserts is associated with increased risk of colon cancer (European Journal of Cancer Prevention, July 12, 2013). The study confirms many previous studies showing that fruits and vegetables are associated with protection, while fats, sugars, red meat and processed meats increase colon cancer risk. Colon cancer accounts for 9.7 percent of cancer cases and 8 percent of cancer-related deaths. The European Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study found that those who consume lots of fiber have a 25-40 percent reduced risk, and those who eat fish daily have a 33 percent reduction in colon cancer.

Known Colon Cancer Risk Factors:

• Eating red or processed meats

• Eating a high-fat, low-fiber diet

• Eating foods with iron or taking iron pills

• Eating lots of fried foods

• Not eating lots of fruits and vegetables

• Having colo-rectal polyps

• Having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)

• Having a family history of colon cancer

• Having a personal history of breast cancer

• Smoking cigarettes

• Drinking alcohol

• Having been infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

• Not exercising regularly

Artificial Sweeteners Don't Help Weight Loss

People who take artificially sweetened drinks regularly are more likely to be fat and suffer from diabetes and heart attacks than those who take neither sugared drinks nor diet drinks (Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, July 10, 2013). This does not prove that diet sodas cause obesity because people who are already overweight are the ones most likely to drink diet sodas.

Why Don't Diet Drinks Help You to Lose Weight?

Sweet tastes, even from fake sugar, tell your brain that food is coming. If no food arrives, your brain continues to feel hunger, so you eat more. The author of this recent study, Dr. Susan Swithers, professor of behavioral neuroscience at Purdue University, showed that the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners tells the brain that good-tasting calories are entering the mouth. PET scans of the brain showed that artificial sweeteners placed only in the mouth (even if they are not swallowed), increase blood flow specifically to the pleasure centers in the brain. The brain then tells the stomach and intestines to prepare for the extra calories by sending signals to the pancreas to release small amounts of insulin. One of the functions of insulin is to flow back to the brain to decrease the sensation of hunger.

A brain that is stimulated by a sweet taste in the mouth prepares for extra calories. However, when no calories come the insulin is released in such small amounts that not enough passes from the bloodstream into the cerebro-spinal fluid to tell the brain that the need for food is satisfied. So your brain continues to tell you that you are hungry and you eat more food. This can cause you to gain weight which increases your risk for diabetes and heart attacks.

This week's medical history:
The Death of President Harrison

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries

Recipe of the Week:

Red Pepper Soup

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

July 21st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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