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Omega-3 fatty acids, found in flaxseed, fish and other foods, may reduce the risk of getting colorectal cancer by two-thirds in men, a new study suggests. There is one caveat, though: the effect is seen in men who do not take aspirin.

What you need to know – Conventional View

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  • Some research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids prevent omega-6 arachidonic acids from promoting cancer in the body.
  • Fatty acids make compounds called prostaglandins, which either become omega-3s or omega-6s. The omega-3 fatty acids suppress the inflammation of cancer, whereas omega-6 acids promote them.
  • The study found that men with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had the lowest risk of colorectal cancer. The study looked at 178 men with colorectal cancer and 282 cancer-free controls.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids also have been associated with protecting the heart and improving cognitive function.
  • Colorectal cancer represents roughly one-tenth of all new cancer cases in the U.S., making it the third leading cause of death among Americans.
  • The areas of the world with the lowest rates of colorectal cancer are Asia and Africa.
  • The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
  • “Blood levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were associated with decreased risk of colorectal cancer among men not using aspirin,” the researchers wrote.

What you need to know – Alternative View

  • Omega-3 fatty acid is a healing nutrient that helps prevent heart disease, depression, strokes and cancers.
  • Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseed, hemp seed, chia seed and, for non-vegetarians, oily fish.

Bottom line

Considerable health benefits have been found from eating the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed and fish, the most recent being a decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer.

M. T. Whitney

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