Doctors have been recommending fish oil as a way to help in the support of heart and joint health. A recent study at the Michigan State University has now linked fish oil to increased risk of serious colitis and colon cancer.
The research showed an increase of colitis and colon cancer in laboratory mice in a very short period of time; only four weeks for the deadly tumors to develop after high doses of fish oil were given.
The monthly journal "Cancer Research" published the finding of the research led by Jenifer Fenton, a researcher at MSU. Fenton is asking for a dose limit for docosahexaemoin acid otherwise referred to as DHA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil. Fenton feels these limits are important in patients who are suffering from many persistent conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome.
The findings of the research team not only linked the risk of cancer in mice given higher doses of DHA, but in the mice that were give lower doses as well. Increased inflammatory bowel syndrome was present in laboratory mice used, due to this condition being one of the risk factors for different types of cancer.
Statements from Fenton included, that dietary guidelines for omega-3 should be established, due to the fact that Americans are deficient in the omega-3 fatty acids, and there is still considerable evidence that support the benefits of using the supplement.
Fenton and the researchers were surprised by the findings, due to the anti-inflammatory effects DHA has been shown in the past. In feeding the mice fish oil that was enriched with DHA, the researchers were actually expecting the results to show decreases in the risk of cancer, instead the study showed an increase. The findings showed that the mice were not able to right off the bacteria responsible for colon tumors.
Even though Fenton believes that guidelines need to be in place to regulate doses of DHA, in no way should people avoid fish oil, and suggests that most people are already receiving enough omega-3 oils through their diet without resorting to addition supplements.
With the high rate of colon cancer being diagnosed in the United States, this research could prove to be very beneficial in preventative measures for individuals with inflammatory bowel syndrome. Fenton feels that testing of the omega-3 acid levels in patients with inflammatory bowel syndrome is the next step in continuing the research into the link between the disease and omega-3 fatty acids.
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