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Fish, Omega 3 May Improve Survival from Colon Cancer

omega 3 and colon cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in the US. Lower your risk today with this easy and tasty diet change.


Several lifestyle factors have been linked to colorectal cancer, including being overweight, being physically inactive, and eating a diet high in red and processed meats. Switching out a steak for a piece of oily fish, though, may help improve your overall risk.

Researchers who analyzed data from two large long-term studies have found that patients with bowel cancer could prolong survival with a greater intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The research suggests that these can suppress tumor growth and curb blood supply to malignant cells.

The observational study suggested that by increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake to at least 0.3 grams daily, there was an associated 41% lower risk of dying from disease. The reduced risk applied to both food sources and omega-3 dietary supplements.

The increased intake of marine fatty acids may not have been the only factor in the reduced risk. Those who had the best benefit also were of normal weight (BMI below 25). Excess weight – especially abdominal fat or excess fat around body organs – leads to several metabolic changes that puts one at a greater risk of developing colon cancer.

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Patients who ate more fish or took omega-3 supplements were also more likely to be physically active, eat more fiber, and less likely to smoke.

Different organizations recommend varying amounts of Omega-3 depending upon your goals for disease prevention and current risk factors. However, in general, the recommendation is for most Americans to consume at least 500 mg per day, which is the equivalent of two fatty fish meals per week.

The best source of omega 3 are wild caught salmon, herring and mackerel. Vegetarian sources of omega 3 include edible seaweeds, nuts (walnuts especially) and seeds (flax, hemp, chia).

Journal Reference:
Mingyang Song, Xuehong Zhang, Jeffrey A Meyerhardt, Edward L Giovannucci, Shuji Ogino, Charles S Fuchs, Andrew T Chan. Marine ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and survival after colorectal cancer diagnosis. Gut, 2016; gutjnl-2016-311990 DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-311990

Additional Resources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

Photo Credit: By Rob (Flickr: Indian Mackeral) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons