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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK
Fatty fish 'cut cancer risk'
Eating mackerel may be good for you
Eating fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel could reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Essential fatty acids - especially omega-3 fatty acids contained in large amounts in fatty fish - have previously been proved to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.

A team from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, carried out a 30-year study on over 6,000 Swedish men.

Our results may indicate an important means by which this disease might be prevented

Dr Paul Terry
The participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire giving details of their diet, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and physical activity.

Over the next 30 years 466 were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of these, 340 died from the disease.

The researchers found that the men who ate no fish had a two to three-fold higher risk of prostate cancer than those who ate moderate or high amounts.

Lead researcher Dr Paul Terry said: "Our study was done in Sweden, a country with traditionally high consumption of fatty fish from Northern (cold) waters, which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

"Since few dietary and other modifiable factors seem to be associated with lower risk of prostate cancer, our results may indicate an important means by which this disease might be prevented".

Positive response

Dr John Toy, Medical Director at Imperial Cancer Research Fund, said: "This is an interesting study that has surveyed an unusually large number of men and certainly adds to our knowledge.

"It also provides encouragement that eating fish is a practical thing men can do to help lower their own risk of prostate cancer."

Dr Toy said it was vital that both men and women ate a healthy, balanced diet as it can help reduce the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

Imperial Cancer estimates that about 35% of all cancers may be preventable by changing diet.

Its Oxford unit is leading a study of prostate cancer and diet as part of a European study called EPIC.

Dr Chris Hiley, of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "This is a useful addition to what we know because it involves something happening to real people rather than theories based on laboratory experiments."

One in 13 men in the UK will get prostate cancer. The disease affects about 20,000 men each year, killing half.

The research is published in The Lancet.

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