The Many Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil supplements may reduce the risk of breast cancer by almost 32%, as determined by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. They followed 35,016 post-menopausal women who had no history of breast cancer. Each woman was asked to fill out a pre-study questionnaire about their use of non-vitamin, non-mineral specialty supplements. The women were then followed for an average of six years.

They found that women who regularly used fish oil supplements had a 32 percent reduced risk of developing the most common form of breast cancer. Of the total number of women in the study, 880 developed the disease. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center study was part of a larger 10-year study that is looking at the effects of fish oil and other non-vitamin supplements on cancer in men and women.

What do these findings mean?

While these results may be preliminary, this is encouraging news that warrants additional research.

Long-chain,omega-3 fatty acids are essential building blocks for the cell membranes of the body and brain, blocking inflammation and allowing messages to be transmitted between cells, she said. These are called essential fatty acids since they are not manufactured in the body and people must get it from their diet: fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel and sardines) is the best source. Plant – based sources of omega-3 fatty acids — including canola, soybean and flaxseed oil — but the body can’t convert them to the more potent form as well as it can the ones that are found in fish, she noted.

Fish oils and Cardiovascular Disease

For people who don’t get 2 or more servings of fish a week, fish oil supplements are a great alternative for people at risk for heart disease. Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids have already been proven to lower the risk of death and heart attack in people with have heart disease. Fish oil is also used to treat people with high levels of the blood fat known as triglyceride, and has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the healthy HDL cholesterol levels. The only downside of fish oil use in general seems to be a slightly increased risk of bleeding, especially when combined with certain medications such as Coumadin and NSAID’s, which should be monitored.

The American Heart Association recommends omega-3 fatty acids to heart disease patients, and research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmia and cardiovascular disease risk as well.

Other research trials to look for:

Harvard University is conducting a randomized controlled trial of vitamin D and fish oils in older men and women. Research is also underway to determine the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on mental health and brain conditions, as well as prostate cancer.

Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced naturally by the body. There are a wide variety of fish oil supplements on the market. When shopping for omega-3 fish oil supple-ments, look for high quality sources with highest EPA and DHA levels such as PERQUE EPA DHA Guard. Even more comprehensive essential fatty acid supplementation is available from PERQUE Triple EFA Guard with Omega 3 as ALA, EPA, DHA and CLA, omega 6 from black currant and flax seed oils and omega 9 from extra virgin olive oil.