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Women who regularly take fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce their risk of getting breast cancer, according to research.
The chance of developing the most common form of the disease, invasive duct breast cancer, is reduced by 32% among women who regularly take the supplements, scientists found in the latest study. However, other supplements taken by women for menopausal symptoms fail to offer any protection.
The study links reduced breast cancer risk to fish oil supplements for the first time. Previous studies which have considered whether dietary consumption of fish or omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of breast cancer have been inconclusive.
Lead researcher Dr Emily White, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, said: “It may be that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are higher than most people would typically get from their diet.”
The Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study recruited 35,000 post-menopausal women who had no history of breast cancer. All were asked to fill out a 24-page questionnaire about their use of dietary supplements and monitored for six years. Over that period, 880 of the women went on to develop breast cancer.
The new findings have been published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Copyright Press Association 2010