Research: GODLEY and colleagues, De

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GODLEY and colleagues, Department of Internal Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599 USA write that animal studies suggest that omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils may promote prostate cancer. The authors investigated whether essential fatty acids modulated prostate cancer risk.



The study, conducted between July 1989 and December 1991 involved 89 patients with prostate cancer and 38 controls from a North Carolina outpatient clinic. The eligible cases were more than 45 years of age and had histological confirmation of prostate cancer within 1 year of entry into the study; controls were histologically confirmed to be free of prostate cancer. Erythrocyte membranes from venous blood and adipose tissue fatty acids were analysed using capillary gas chromatography.


Linoleic acid consumption was positively associated with risk of prostate cancer. The odds ratios (ORs) comparing the first and fourth quartiles of linoleic acid consumpation were 3.54 for erythrocyte membranes and 2.47 for adipose tissue. The data failed to demonstrate a protective effect of fish omega-3 fatty acids on prostate cancer.


These results suggest that linoleic acid consumption may increase risk of prostate cancer, which is consistent with results in animal research. Linoleic acid is found in vegetable oils used in cooking, in cereals, snack foods and baked goods.


Godley PA et al. Biomarkers of essential fatty acid consumption and risk of prostatic carcinoma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 5(11): 889-95. Nov 1996.

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