(HealthDay News) — Colorectal cancer (CRC) patients who consume higher amounts of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), mainly from oily fish, may have better odds of survival, according to a study published online July 19 in Gut.
Andrew Chan, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues tracked data on 1,659 patients diagnosed with CRC. During an average follow-up of about 10 years, 561 of the patients died. CRC was the cause of death in 169 cases, while other major causes of death included cardiovascular disease (153 cases) and other types of cancer (113 cases).
The researchers found that patients who consumed at least 0.3 g of omega-3 PUFAs per day after their CRC diagnosis were 41 percent less likely to die of the disease than those who consumed less than 0.1 g per day. The reduced risk was associated with omega-3 PUFAs from both food and fish oil supplements, but few of the patients used supplements, the researchers noted. The link between marine omega-3 PUFAs and lower risk of death from CRC was particularly strong for patients who were taller, relatively thin, and did not take aspirin regularly.
The researchers found that increasing intake of omega-3 PUFAs by at least 0.15 g per day after a CRC diagnosis was associated with a 70 percent lower risk of dying from the disease, while a reduction in daily intake was associated with a 10 percent higher risk of death from the disease. The all-cause mortality risk was also 13 percent lower in those who increased their intake of omega-3 PUFAs, but 21 percent higher among those who decreased their intake.