Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been scientifically proven to cut cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, joint stiffness, and treat various mood disorders . Now a new study claims it may help women counter breast cancer.

Chinese researchers found that postmenopausal women who consume more omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

The substance that bestows health benefits is n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA). Oily fish such as tuna, sardines and salmon are a good source of these types of fatty acids.

“Higher consumption of dietary marine n-3 PUFA is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. These findings could have public health implications with regard to prevention of breast cancer through dietary and lifestyle interventions,” the authors stated.

Data analysis of 26 studies
In a bid to determine whether fish oil confers protective benefits against breast cancer, a team of researchers led by Duo Li, professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Zhejiang University University in Hangzhou, China conducted a study.

They reviewed the results of 26 different studies with a total of 900,000 women in the United States, Europe and Asia. Nearly 20,000 of them had breast cancer at some point in their lives.

The volunteers furnished information pertaining to their eating habits, including consumption of fish. In addition, experts took blood samples of the participants to identify the presence of the omega-3 fatty acids on their bodies.

Revelations of the study
The analysis revealed that women who ate a diet rich in n-3 PUFAs slashed their risk of breast cancer by 14 percent compared to those who ate the least.

It was noted that subjects who included one or two portions of oily fish to their diet each week lowered their risk of the malignancy by five percent.

Breast cancer risks were lowered only by n-3 PUFA intake from fatty fish. Consuming omega-3 found in plants did not have an impact on cancer risks, the study discovered. Asian populations had the lowest risks because their fish intake is higher compared to people in Western countries.

Sally Greenbrook, Senior Policy Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer stated, “It’s difficult to say with any certainty which foods or dietary factors have an impact on breast cancer risk, since we all eat a variety of different foods, and our diet changes over our lifetime.

“The study found that fatty acids found in fish could be associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, but there’s not enough evidence yet to suggest eating fish will reduce a person’s individual risk. However, we do recommend that all people eat a healthy balanced diet for their general health and wellbeing, of which fish can certainly form a part.”

The study is published today (June 27) in the British Medical Journal.

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