It seems that there are a lot of different risk factors for getting prostate cancer. Among some of the most popular are: genetic predisposition, being of African descent, eating red meat, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating dairy products and having too many different sex partners. (If you are a Black male with a lot of sex partners I’d cut back on my dairy.)
Just when it seems like there’s not much left that’s tasty or fun, the American Journal of Epidemiology has added one more to the list. Men who eat fish are 2.5 times more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Admittedly, giving up fish isn’t as tough as most of the other things on the above list, but we always thought fish was good for us. Isn’t it supposed to be brain food or something?
Researchers from Seatle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center did a prostate cancer study on 19,000 men age 55 and up. After a few years they tested a subset of 3,000 of them and discovered that the men who had developed an aggressive form of prostate cancer also had the highest levels of DHA (an omega 3 fatty acid). This was shocking to them in that they expected a higher level of omega 3 might even protect against cancer. If it didn’t prevent cancer they certainly didn’t expect it to cause cancer. The men with the highest levels of DHA had a much higher incidence of this disease. Not only did they have prostate cancer but an aggressive form of it. The kind that kills you quickly. It was also interesting to note that very few of the subjects took omega 3 supplements. Most of them got it from eating fish.
If you Google “Omega 3 prostate cancer fish” it’s all over the web. Eating fish increases your risk of getting an aggressive form of prostate cancer by a significant amount. The results are in. The good news is that fish still make excellent fertilizer in your garden.
This is a good time to make a disclaimer. I’m not a doctor. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten my degree in Biology that I’m probably not even a good scientist. I’m a Caveman. However, something here seemed fishy to me. I do know that cavemen ate fish. To suddenly find out that fish are bad for us just seems counter-intuitive, so I did a little digging.
This study didn’t start out to be about omega 3 at all. The omega 3 findings were anecdotal. It was an experiment sponsored by a major drug company that sells finasteride. Finasteride is a drug that is synthizised from progestrone ( a female hormone) that shrinks enlarged prostates and promotes hair growth on ageing balding men. The drug company sponsered this study in the hopes that their drug might also prevent prostate cancer. How cool would that be? A pill so that you don’t have to get up at night to pee, prevents prostate cancer and even grows your hair back.
All 19,000 men at the beginning of this study and all 3,000 that were eventually tested for prostate cancer had been taking finasteride. As a Caveman, here is what I would draw as a conclusion from this study: Most of them could sleep through the night without getting up to urinate, most were hairier, a few that ate fish developed aggressive prostate cancer.
I think the only logical conclusion one can draw from this study is that it isn’t a good idea for men to eat both fish and finasterides.
So, can eating fish give you aggressive prostate cancer? Maybe. Maybe not. Because it’s so hard to check for caveman prostate cancer in the fossil records, we need to do more research.