(NaturalNews) Higher consumption of fish oil may lead to a significant reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, according to a meta-analysis conducted by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
In a review of 14 prior studies examining the connection between fish consumption and rates of colorectal cancer, the researchers determined that those with the highest consumption of fish oil had a 12 percent lower risk of contracting colorectal cancer than those with the lowest consumption. Every extra 100 grams (10 ounces, or three-quarters of a serving) of fish consumed each week reduced the cancer risk by 3 percent.
Women appeared to derive a greater benefit from fish oil than men did, but the researchers said that the studies did not allow them to draw any firm conclusions about a sex difference.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 655,000 people die from colorectal cancer each year.
Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are becoming more popular as research suggests that such fats provide a number of health benefits, such as reducing cancer risk, protecting against cardiovascular disease and improving cognitive function. The study authors noted that a recent study published in the journal Carcinogenesis found that supplementation with omega-3s led to a reduction in colorectal inflammation that could be associated with up to a 15 percent reduction in tumor formation.
Omega-3 fatty acids primarily occur in fish, which acquire them from algae. Other dietary sources include flaxseeds and certain other oilseeds, and a number of companies have begun synthesizing omega-3s from other sources in order to supplement foods with them.
The European market in omega-3s was estimated at approximately €160 million ($230 million) in 2004. It is expected to grow by approximately 8 percent yearly until at least 2010.