Fatty fish, including things like salmon, tuna, and sardines, have been linked to numerous health benefits. We’ve seen the evidence in several singular studies, and now, a review of 21 different studies substantiates these fish could have a positive effect on a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer thanks to healthful fatty acids – giving you a good reason to increase your fish intake.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the study came from a team of researchers with Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. They looked at 21 different studies that investigated fish intake and corresponding intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In all, the research involved more than 800,000 women from around the world, of which 20,000 developed breast cancer over the varying study periods.
The researchers, led by professor Duo Li, found that an increased consumption of PUFAs was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. For those women who had the highest intake of PUFAs, there was a whopping 14% reduction in breast cancer risk. Also, for every 0.1 gram-per-day increase in the PUFAs, there was an associated 5% lower risk of the deadly cancer.
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Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among women in the United States. In 2009, the last year for which data is available, the CDC reports over 40,500 women died from the disease. And while research on the disease should be focused on prevention, much of it is funneled into agencies that seek to boost Big Pharma treatments and conventional detection methods.
Li suggests women get one to two servings of oily fish per week to maximize the effects of PUFAs. While he cannot explain how the PUFAs work to reduce the cancer risk, he suggests the fats may work to regulate the molecules involved in cell proliferation and growth.
Critics of the study have suggested that although the study sample was large, researchers cannot be certain the lowered risk was directly caused by fatty fish consumption. They caution that fish consumption is “no cure-all” and warn about the mercury content of some fish.
Of course the best advice for avoiding all types of chronic illness, including cancer, is to exercise regularly; eat whole, natural and organic foods; and practice good self-care. Tuna in particular is often associated with high mercury levels, so be certain if you are eating a lot of fish to practice simple detoxification steps like eating cilantro, performing occasional colon cleanses, and eating probiotics.