Fish Oil Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Scientists, in a lab experiment, generated 6-month-old trout from surrogate salmon parents.
Credit: Science

A new study found a reduced risk of breast cancer for women who take fish oil supplements. The researchers cautioned, however, that more research is needed to establish a causal link.

The study involved data from a six-year survey involving 35,016 postmenopausal women who did not have a history of breast cancer. By the end of the study, 880 cases of breast cancer were identified.

Regular use of fish oil supplements, which contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, was linked with a 32 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. The reduction in risk appeared to be restricted to invasive ductal breast cancer, the most common type of the disease.

The use of other specialty supplements, many of which are commonly taken by women to treat symptoms of menopause, was not associated with breast cancer risk, the study found.

This research is the first to demonstrate a link between the use of fish oil supplements and a reduction in breast cancer, researchers said.

"It may be that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are higher than most people would typically get from their diet," said study leader at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

White did not make any recommendations based on the results. Without additional studies to confirm the link, "we should not draw any conclusions about a causal relationship," she said.

The results, announced today, are detailed in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.