Archive for November, 2010

Foods that prevent breast cancer should include Omega 3 fatty acids

As with all cancers an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But can you prevent breast cancer, and if so how?

Breast cancer is one of the most serious killers in the US. It is estimated that somewhere around 13 to 15 percent of women will develop breast cancer at some stage in their life, and somewhere around 50,000 women will die from it. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.

Of course preventing breast cancer has been studied for many years, and there is no clear answer to the question of how to prevent breast cancer. However there are certainly some strategies worth considering.

Increasing your intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil, as well as reducing your consumption of common vegetable oils, may well be one of them.

It has been suspected for some time that certain foods can help prevent cancer. And research has been undertaken looking at food to prevent breast cancer, and a link has been established between increasing your intake of the essential fatty acids and a reduced risk of breast cancer.How do you prevent breast cancer

A study published in September of this year in the International Journal of Cancer looks at the question of whether increasing your intake of the essential fatty acids known as the Omega 3 fats, and reducing your intake of the Omega 6 fatty acids, can have a role in helping prevent breast cancer.

We have talked before about the Omega 3 Omega 6 ratio. Omega 6 fatty acids are commonly found in a range of oils that are used in much of our processed food because they are abundant and cheap.

The Omega 6 Omega 3 ratio is the ratio between the amount of Omega 6 that we consume and the amount of Omega 3 that we consume. Over the last century the ratio has changed dramatically, with a vast increase in our intake of 6 and a decrease in our intake of 3. And science suspects that this change in the ratio may have a negative health impact.

This new study has now suggested that lowering your intake of Omega 6 fatty acids, and increasing your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids may have a beneficial effect and may well help to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

The most effective way of increasing your intake of healthy essential fatty acids is to take fish oil capsules or to eat more fish. And the most effective way of reducing your intake of unhealthy fatty acids is to reduce your reliance on vegetable oils in cooking, increase your use of olive oil and to reduce your dependence on processed foods.

The study analysed data from 72,000 women in China. These women were followed for 8 years, so a significant amount of time was invested in the study.

And the results supported the conclusion that reducing your Omega 6 Omega 3 ratio, in other words eating less 6 and more 3, was beneficial to help prevent breast cancer. In fact women with a higher ratio were twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those with a low ratio.

The most cost effective, and easiest way to increase your intake of the healthy essential fatty acids is to take daily fish oil supplements.

So if you’ve been asking yourself about foods to prevent breast cancer there’s some simple advice. Reduce your intake of vegetable oils, increase your intake of olive oil, take daily fish oil supplements and you may well have found a way to help prevent breast cancer.

Of course like all these things it may work for some and not for others, and of course the scientific studies go on, it’s extremely difficult to say when these things are sufficiently proven to be mainstream. But there are a wide range of other excellent health reasons which you also attract from increasing your intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. You may well be preventing breast cancer, but regardless will certainly be improving your health in other areas.

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Is there are an Omega 3 asthma link? Will more essential fatty acids in your diet help your asthma?

It would seem from many decades of study that increasing our intake of the essential fatty acids known as the Omega3 fats will help in many areas of our health. But will taking capsules of fish oil for asthma reduction make any difference to your asthma symptoms?

There is no doubt that our intake of the essential fatty acids known as the Omega3 fats, and in particular DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), the 2 most important of the Omega3 fats, has declined over the last century.

And it would also seem quite clear from decades of research that this decline is negatively affecting our health in various ways. But does this negative impact extend to those suffering from asthma?

Omega 3 and asthma

Or in other words if you have asthma will taking Omega 3 supplements, or eating more fish, help reduce your asthma symptoms?

It’s a good question and unfortunately like many of these things a question without a clear answer. There has been a number of studies on the Omega 3 asthma link, with varying results.

And it is also a question of what you are trying to achieve. Anyone who currently suffers from asthma wants to know whether increasing their Omega 3 intake will reduce symptoms. This is quite a different question to whether or not an increase in Omega 3 intake helps prevent asthma.

On the question of preventing asthma by increasing your intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids one study has concluded that increasing the intake of the Omega3 essential fatty acids by a woman in late pregnancy may help reduce the risk of asthma for those children after birth and in later life.

That suggests a preventative link between Omega 3 and asthma development.

Whether it is possible to prevent, or help prevent, asthma by taking Omega 3 supplements later in life is hard to say.

And how about people who currently suffer from asthma, and they take supplements containing fish oil for asthma relief rather than prevention?

Studies are mixed. One, from 2006, has suggested that Omega 3 capsules may well help improve lung function for people who suffer from exercise induced asthma.

The supplements used in the study contained 3.2 grams of EPA and 2 grams of DHA. The best source of EPA and DHA is fish oil.

One particularly interesting finding was that there was evidence that taking the essential fatty acids helps reduce airway inflammation. As it is now well known that Omega 3 fats are a powerful anti-inflammatory this makes complete sense.

Ultimately, in the absence of clear evidence either way, it comes down to the individual. People suffering from asthma should of course consult their doctor, however it would seem that there are strong reasons to try using capsules containing fish oil for asthma relief. Try it and see if it works for you.

Regardless of whether increasing your intake of fish oil reduces asthma symptoms there is no doubt that all of us, including asthma sufferers, can get a wide range of health benefits from adding more Omega3 fats to our diet.

So even if you do not find that supplementing your diet with fish oil capsules helps reduce your asthma symptoms you will certainly still attract many of the other health benefits that have been shown to follow from increasing Omega 3 intake.

And that has to be good.

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Is there much Omega 3 in Salmon that almost all of us eat?

Is there much Omega 3 in salmon? It would seem a silly question really. Everyone knows that salmon is one of the best sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. And so if we are looking to increase our intake of Omega 3 fats then eating salmon is a good way to do it.

Or is it? There is no doubt that wild salmon are packed full of all those good Omega 3 fatty acids. Problem is most of us aren’t eating wild salmon, we’re eating farmed salmon.

The rise in the farmed salmon industry has been nothing short of amazing. In the 1980’s we were eating wild Alaskan salmon. Now most of us, when we buy salmon, are eating farmed salmon. Farmed salmon are cheaper to produce than wild salmon are to catch. So they are very price competitive.

So is there much Omega 3 in salmon that come from the fish farm? Well no, not nearly as much. In fact there are estimates that farmed salmon has around a third of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids that wild salmon does.

Not only that but there is also more Omega 6 fats in farmed salmon. That is a bad thing, not a good thing, as we are now eating too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3.Omega 3 in salmon

And there are serious issues with chemical contamination of farmed salmon. Studies show that farmed salmon have much higher levels of such nasty chemical contaminants as PCBs, pesticides and more.

Salmon from the farm are fed antibiotics as well as dye to give their flesh that nice appealing red color.

There is no doubt that eating the right fish is a good way to increase your intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and if you are eating wild caught salmon then you are eating the right fish. If you’re eating farmed salmon you’re not.

So when you buy your next fillet of fish at the supermarket make a point of asking them if the salmon you are buying is farmed or wild. Chances are it’s farmed, and as we said there is not a lot of Omega 3 in salmon from the fish farm.

In fact the best, most cost effective way to get your Omega3 daily is to take simple fish oil supplements. This is cheaper than trying to buy wild salmon each week, is much simpler, particularly if you’re not a big fan of fish, and the highest quality fish oil supplements aren’t contaminated.

Note that not all fish oil supplements are high quality (some are) and there are some issues of toxic contamination with some of them.

So don’t assume there is any, or much, Omega 3 in the salmon you have on your plate. There may be, if it’s wild salmon, but chances are there’s not.

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