Does dietary flaxseed oil have a role in prostate cancer?
—Gerard K. Nash, DO, Amarillo, Tex.
Flaxseed oil is a rich source of α-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. In his newsletter, “Prostate Forum,” Charles E. Myers Jr, MD, a researcher at the University of Virginia Medical School, in Charlottesville, has written that some clinical studies suggest that “a-linolenic acid may actually be dangerous for prostate cancer patients…Five of six [epidemiology] studies found an increase in the risk of prostate cancer associated with a-linolenic acid…Our laboratory found that a-linolenic acid is one of the most powerful growth stimuli for human prostate cancer cells” (www.prostateforum.com. Accessed February 13, 2007).On the other hand, beneficial effects on prostate cancer have been attributed to flaxseed oil (Urology 2001;58:47-52). I suspect the jury is still out on this one, but it might be prudent to suggest dietary supplementation with a source of omega-3 fatty acids that does not come from flaxseed oil.
—David T. Noyes, MD (101-11)