A recent study quoted in the Daily Mail purports that taking fish oils may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. I have received a number of inquiries from my patients about this study, so I decided it was time to put this article into perspective.
Here is an excellent response by Dr. Russell Jaffe whose Perque line of products are recognized for their high quality. Dr. Jaffe describes why this study is not a good one. I believe he would agree with me that this study does not resolve the question. He states clearly that there are many excellent scientific studies showing the benefit of supplementation. This is not the only company with integrity that demands the highest quality for their products. Unfortunately for the general public, most of these companies sell mostly to practitioners. However, more and more of them are available online.
Thorne is another company with an excellent reputation. Their comments include a listing of the participants in the study, many of whom already demonstrated major health issues. “Does Fish Oil Really Increase Prostate Cancer Risk?”
I also want to emphasize the importance of individualizing treatment regimens. Supplements are a form of treatment just as any medication would be. The difference is that supplements are generally not associated with the same level and severity of side effects as prescription medications because they are designed to support bodily functions rather than destroy something like a bacterium or to interfere with a chemical reaction in order to reduce inflammation.
Additionally, I always stress that there is no one supplement that is right for everybody. Each of us is an individual. The millions of reactions going on in our bodies all the time make us very complex organisms. “One man’s pudding is another man’s poison” as the old adage goes. What works for one person might imbalance another person. Additionally, I generally don’t believe in huge doses of any supplement unless that prescription is temporary and regularly monitored. Finally, the same nutrient from one company might react very differently if manufactured by another company. I have seen that frequently with my patients who tell me they do fine with products from one company whereas another’s disagrees with them.
Lastly, it is unfortunate that some in medicine insist that the only valid approach is the “scientific, controlled trials” approach. We are far from knowing all the aspects of life. People’s responses to stresses and influences cannot really be quantified. “Miraculous” recoveries occur all the time that we cannot scientifically explain. To me this means we are better off if we continue to respect and think positively about the healing powers of our bodies. A patient of mine this morning told me about his torn shoulder tendon from an accident years ago. The orthopedist then told him “you know, this will never fully recover.” Well, my patient says his shoulder is great now, as if he never had the accident. This man has patiently attended to his physical and emotional needs by seeing holistic practitioners of various disciplines over the years. He works on being aware of the messages his body sends him about what agrees with it and what does not. And his shoulder has healed completely.
Our bodies are amazing healing organisms. Let us support them with whatever resources they need to stay fully functional and vital.