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The omega-3 fatty acid EPA protects against prostate cancer, which is considered to be a lifestyle disease

The omega-3 fatty acid EPA protects against prostate cancer, which is considered to be a lifestyle diseaseThe global differences in prostate cancer rates reveal that this type of cancer is associated with lifestyle. For example, Inuits have a very low rate of prostate cancer, which is attributed to their high intake of omega-3 fatty acids from seal, salmon, and other maritime sources. It turns out that the content of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA in prostate cells is a determining factor for how and if the disease develops, according to a new study that is published in Nutrients. Selenium also has anti-cancer properties, especially with relation to prostate cancer, and there are other dietary measures that can make a difference.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer form among men in the Western countries, whereas it is rarely seen among men in China, Japan, or Inuits that eat an indigenous diet with a lot of seafood. Nonetheless, epidemiological studies have shown different results in terms of the relation between omega-3 intake and the risk of developing prostate cancer. This may be because the researchers have used different methods and biomarkers.

  • PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) is a compound, which is excreted by the prostate gland in all men
  • The risk of prostate cancer increases when the PSA count goes up
  • The risk is also related to a person’s age and how fast the PSA count increases
  • 22 percent of all men with a PSA count between 3-10 ng/ml develop prostate cancer
  • Prostate cancer is divided in stages, depending how much the disease has spread

Omega-3 fatty acids and their effect on prostate cancer

The omega-3 fatty acids are essential. They are used as building blocks in all cell membranes and are of importance to our nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune defense. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA. These two omega-3 fatty acids are embedded in our cell membranes, where they have a host of different physiological functions. The internationally acknowledged cell biologist Bruce Lipton thinks of the cell membrane as the brain of the cell that tells the cellular DNA what actions the cell must take. It is therefore vital that the cell membranes contain plenty of EPA and DHA.
The omega-3 fatty acids also engage in a biochemical interplay with the omega-6 fatty acids, and it is important that the different fatty acids are present in the right balance.
The scientists behind the new study recruited 157 men with prostate cancer in its early stage (stage 1). The average age was 61 years, and the participants had an average PSA count of 5.0 ng/ml. Using food questionnaires, the scientists assessed the participants’ intake of different omega-3 fatty acids. Levels of omega-3 in the membranes of red blood cells and prostate tissue were also measured using biopsies.
The second round of biopsies showed that in 25% of the men, the prostate cancer had progressed to stage 2. At the same time, the scientists discovered that in men with higher fish intake and a higher concentration of omega-3 in their prostate tissue, there was a lower risk that their cancer progressed from stage 1 to stage 2. They did not observe a similar relation when they looked at the omega-3 content in the red blood cells and therefore considered these to be inferior biomarkers.
As such, high levels of EPA in prostate tissue were associated with a lower risk of the disease developing. Interestingly, intake of omega-3 fatty acids from linseed oil and similar vegetable sources was not associated with a decreased risk. This is because vegetable sources contain a form of omega-3 called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which the body has difficulty with converting into EPA due to sluggish enzyme processes.

Sources of omega-3

  • ALA: Mainly linseed oil, rapeseed oil, and walnuts
  • EPA and DHA: Mainly oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, anchovies, sardines, eel, lumpfish, and rainbow trout
  • Note: Many people have difficulty with converting ALA into the active forms of omega-3, which are EPA and DHA

How does EPA protect against prostate cancer?

EPA, as it turns out, inhibits chronic inflammation in the prostate tissue, which plays a key role in the development of cancer. The scientists also found that the omega-3/omega-6 ratio in prostate tissue was important. This is because too much omega-6, which primarily get from plant oils, margarine, and ready meals increases the risk of inflammation.
Not only do men with prostate cancer need more omega-3, they also need to reduce their intake of omega-6 from the listed sources. Nuts, kernels, and seeds, on the other hand, are excellent food sources. Finally, the scientists observed that omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish appear to have a better effect than omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements. This is most likely because fish also contain the essential trace element selenium

Selenium prevents prostate cancer by way of different mechanism

European farmland is generally low in selenium. This contributes to the increased rate of cancer in the prostate gland and in other organs. Selenium supports a host of different enzymes that are vital for cellular energy turnover, thyroid hormones, fertility, and immune defense. Also, selenium supports the important GPX antioxidants that protect cells against oxidative stress. In relation to cancer, selenium is believed to promote programmed self-destruction (apoptosis) of cells and reduce the blood supply to tumors (anti-angiogenesis), which prevents uncontrolled cell division and impairs tumor growth. Selenium also helps block inflammation, which makes this micronutrient a key player in long-term prevention.
In 1996, the American cancer researcher, Professor Larry Clark, published his famous NPC Study (Nutritional Prevention of Cancer). Here, he showed that daily supplementation with 200 micrograms of selenium yeast could lower the risk of several common cancer types. After a 10-year follow-up period, cancer mortality had decreased by 50 percent among the selenium-treated participants compared with the placebo group, and the prostate cancer rate had gone down by 63 percent.

The risk of prostate cancer increases with age

  • Around one third of Danish men from 50 years and older have cancer cells in their prostate gland
  • It takes several years for the disease to develop, and prostate cancer is the most common cancer form among older men
  • Fish oil and selenium help prevent prostate cancer and also prevent it from progressing

Selenium controls the derailed immune defense in prostate cancer

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen conducted a study, in which they demonstrated that a selenium compound known as methylselenol prevents cancer cells from spreading as a result of cellular stress and a derailed immune defense. With prostate cancer, cells overproduce some compounds (NKG2D ligands) that overstimulate the immune defense. The NGD2D ligands also infect the bloodstream like clusters of alarm bells that confuse and exhaust the immune system, eventually causing the body to break down (unless they are controlled).
The Danish scientists claim that methylselenol counteracts the uncontrolled production of these problematic NKG2D ligands and their morbid action in the bloodstream, but this requires the presence of selenium in adequate amounts.

Danish scientists: Selenium yeast protects against prostate cancer

A study from Denmark’s Technical University (DTU) shows that daily supplementation with 200 micrograms of selenium yeast lowers the risk of prostate cancer.

Selenium’s six mechanisms against cancer

  • Powerful antioxidant that protects cells against free radicals
  • Repairs DNA damage
  • Inhibits the formation of new blood vessels in tumors (anti-angiogenesis)
  • Helps diseased cells self-destruct (apoptosis)
  • Supports a well-functioning immune defense
  • Controls the formation of compounds that can overstimulate the immune defense

Prostate cancer and dairy products

Cow’s milk is intended to helps young calves grow fast and reach a body weight of around 300 kilos in approximately one year. There are many growth-stimulating compounds and hormones in cow’s milk such as casein, IGF-1, testosterone, and estrogen. The big question is if these compounds can influence hormone-sensitive tissues like the prostate gland and breasts. It is a fact that both prostate cancer and breast cancer are far less common in countries like Japan and China where people don’t consume dairy products. Just for the record, there are over 100 times as many deaths of prostate cancer in Manhattan as in Peking.
The English geochemist, Jane Plant, who has had terminal breast cancer, believes she managed to combat her disease by changing her diet. She has authored several books, where she has compiled extensive documentation that reveals a link between dairy products and cancer in the prostate gland, breasts, and ovaries. It also has something to do with the total dairy intake, lack of specific nutrients, stress and other factors that can affect cellular health.

  • At least 30 percent of all men in their 70s have cancer cells in their prostate gland but don’t have any noticeable symptoms
  • The majority of them are likely to go through life without experiencing any problems
  • Diet, body weight, and other lifestyle factors mean a lot


Hanane Moussa et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Survey in Men under Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer: from Intake to Prostate Tissue Level. Nutrients 2019

Malene Outzen et al. Selenium status and risk of prostate cancer in a Danish population. British Journal of Nutrition 2016

DTU Fødevareinstituttet. Evidensgrundlaget for danske råd om kost og fysisk aktivitet. 2013

Clark LC et al: Effects of Selenium Supplementation for Cancer Prevention in Patients with Carcinoma of the Skin. Journal of the American Medical Association: 1996

Hagemann-Jensen Michael et al. The Selenium Metabolite Methylselenol Regulates the Expression of Ligands That Trigger Immune Activation through the Lymphocyte Receptor NKG2D. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2014.

Klein EA et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). Jama 2011.

Bruce Lipton. Intelligente celler. Borgen 2009

Jane Plant. Dit liv i dine hænder. Aronsen 2008

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