Eating Fish May Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer occurs on the last eight to ten inches of the colon. They are often referred to together as colorectal cancers and are a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
In the colon and rectum, the exaggerated growth of cells may cause precancerous polyps (adenomas or adenomatous polyps), which form in the lining of the intestine. Over a period of time some of these polyps may become cancerous. In the later stages of the disease, these cancerous polyps may penetrate the colon walls and metastasize (spread) to nearby lymph nodes and other organs.
In a new study, researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search for studies evaluating the relationship between fish consumption and colorectal, colon or rectal cancer risk. Forty-one studies were ultimately identified for inclusion.
Through analyses of the study results, the researchers found that eating fish reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 12 percent. The highest reported fish consumption was linked to a 17 percent decreased risk, while the lowest reported fish consumption was linked to a seven percent decreased risk.
The authors concluded that eating fish may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer; however, further research is necessary before firm conclusions can be made.
Fish is a dietary source of both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). There is supportive evidence from multiple studies that suggests the intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides; reduces the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease; slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening of the arteries") and lowers blood pressure slightly. Several previous population studies have also reported that dietary omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil may reduce the risk of developing breast, colon or prostate cancer. Additional research is needed in this area.
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