Archive for July, 2013

Fish Oil Causes Prostate Cancer?

I’m sitting in my hotel yesterday morning enjoying a cup of coffee.

fish oil prostate cancerAs I’m paging through the USA Today (guilty pleasure #1 when traveling) and listening to a morning TV show (guilty pleasure #2 when traveling) I heard the news anchor say something that almost made me spew my coffee.

“If you’re chewing your fish oil right now, immediately spit it out.  A new study just released found fish oil increases the risk of prostate cancer by 71%.”

As someone who takes fish oil daily, is an educator for a fish oil company, and when asked what supplements you should take, respond with “fish oil and vitamin D” I needed to hear more.
Because I work with a lot of media, I also had a hunch that there was more to tell than just what the TV anchor was reporting.  


The devil is in the details.

The little blurb I heard also conflicted with a large meta analysis (review of many studies) published in 2010 that showed fish consumption was protective against prostate cancer mortality. 

Back to this current study, which I’ve now had the chance to read in its entirety and got to talk with a handful of colleagues about.  The authors in this particular study said their results agreed with two other studies that had similar findings.  However they left out the many other studies that didn’t have similar findings, including the large review study published just a few years ago.

So now that I’ve had the chance to read the study, let’s pick through this a bit to hopefully help calm your nerves.

Translating research into results.

This was a large study – what’s called an epidemiological study, where researchers pick an outcome (in this case, prostate cancer) and then try to determine what may have led to that outcome (in this case, omega-3 levels of patients who had what’s called high grade prostate cancer). 

These types of studies are OK, but certainly can not determine cause and effect.  I had a long conversation with my friend, nutrition expert and physician, Dr. Hector Lopez, who summed it up well “this type of study and data limit the strength of the findings – these are not cause and effect studies.” 

In other words, from the findings of this study, it is 100% impossible and irresponsible to conclude that fish or fish oil cause an increase in risk for prostate cancer, though this was seen all over the media today.  And, interestingly, even the authors of this current study admit they don’t know why omega-3s – which normally display anti-cancer effects across the board – would promote prostate tumors.  Even stranger since, in the authors words, the men in the study had  “very low concentrations of omega-3′s."  We’ll talk more about their concentrations in a minute.

Let’s look a bit more in depth at the study itself. 

The method used for analysis of omega-3 levels was a single blood test, which was done when these subjects entered the long term study.

But there’s a major flaw in that type of analysis.  Single blood tests are not an accurate way of measuring omega-3 levels. This is simply an acute measure of omega-3 intake; something that could be affected by eating a single fish meal or taking a single dose of fish oil, but are not an accurate assessment of long term intake (the most important measurement).  

In fact, a recent research study by well known omega-3 expert, Dr. Bill Harris, confirmed that very point – single blood tests, like those used in this particular study, are not an accurate assessment of true, long term intake.  I also had a lengthy conversation with omega-3 researcher and expert Dr. Doug Bibus today who actually does blood serum tests to truly measure the level of omega-3 in your blood tissue and he confirmed my thoughts. If you do in fact want to get your blood tissue measured, go to and you can have it done.

Speaking of the analysis, when you look closely at the actual blood values — again, not a truly accurate tool to measure blood tissue levels of omega-3 fats, but still what was used in this study — the difference between the combined cancer group and control group was just 0.2%.  The blood level was 4.66% in the combined cancer group vs. 4.48% in the control (no cancer).  

What about countries with high seafood intakes who naturally have higher omega-3 intakes because of their diet?  We don’t see levels of prostate cancer among men skyrocketing in Japan, Iceland, etc.  So that conclusion isn’t valid in our opinion.

Research is like a woman’s bikini.  It can hide or reveal as much as you want.

So, all that being said, it’s important to take all studies with a grain of salt and keep your eye on the big picture.  Again, research can hide or reveal whatever you want.  I’m not saying these researchers or others are deceitful; there are just different statistical analyses, ways to look at data, etc that may not be appropriate in different situations.  That’s why it’s important to look at multiple studies (or keep reading this blog so we can do that for you).

Alright, so where do we go from here?

3 Take Home Points:

  1. Hopefully you’re eating fish regularly — wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna, etc — 2-3 times per week.  That’s first and foremost.  Food first as fish offers a whole slew of other great nutrients, above and beyond just omega-3’s.
  2. The abundance of well controlled research, most governing bodies, well informed researchers and experts who study and talk about this regularly … agree that supplementing with a high quality fish oil is safe, healthy and smart.  We use, like and trust Nordic Naturals – take it ourselves and give it to our two girls.
  3. While we believe fish oil is a great piece to the dietary puzzle, it is not a magic bullet.  It is also important to decrease less healthy fats (processed saturated fats, trans fats), soybean oil, corn oil, fried foods, etc. in the diet.

Please do us a big favor and click the like button below to share this story on Facebook because the media isn’t telling the entire truth!

What’s the Deal with the Paleo Diet?

Checking in a Monday …

… answering one of the MOST common questions we get.

What Do You Think About the Paleo Diet?

Well, let’s take a step back and talk about the Paleo Diet a bit first.

What is the Paleo Diet?

To really simplify it, the idea is to eat like our ancestors who ate a lot less processed of a diet than we currently do

More specifically there are some simple guidelines about foods to choose and those to avoid (this list from a popular Paleo Diet website).  Similar lists are out there that are even a bit more limited (eat fruit, but only berries — veggies, except nightshades, like eggplant and tomatoes, etc).

Eat Avoid
Fruit Dairy
Veggies Grains
Lean Meat Processed Food & Sugar
Seafood Legumes
Nuts & Seeds Starches
Healthy Fats Alcohol

Let’s first talk about all we agree with.  Because at the end of the day, 90% of nutrition experts agree on most nutrition habits.  What’s funny is everyone always wants us to focus on the little part where there is a discrepancy.

We at Mohr Results are 100% on board with all those foods to include on the list above as a majority of the diet.

However there are a few in the "avoid" column we certainly believe are fantastic for you.

To be honest, the only one we completely agree with in that list is processed foods and sugar.  The devil is in the details.

Dairy certainly has some great nutrients.  Cottage cheese & Greek yogurt, for example — two easy sources of protein that work great in meals or as snacks.  Grains, same thing – lots of benefits when you choose the right types and that’s the issue.  Grains offer a ton of fiber and other nutrients.  Sure, most people do eat too many grains and, well, the "grains" they choose are hardly high fiber grains.  That’s the issue.

We’re fans of quality, fibrous grains in the right portions.  Same with legumes, which are a great source of fiber too.

The issue, really, is folks want to make nutrition black or white believing a food or food group is good or bad.

In fact, in response to a blog I wrote the other day, someone followed up on Twitter saying.

"Beans and Grains are Pro Inflammatory = Leaky Gut"


Let’s look at the big picture.  Asian cultures usually eat rice (a grain) with every single meal. Italians include pasta (grain) and/or bread (grain) with most meals.  Usually white flour pasta, at that. 

Are we seeing an epidemic of "Leaky gut" around the world from the grains?  Not quite.

Nutrition is not black or white. 

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t some great qualities of eating less processed, more whole foods.  Of course there are and we love that about the "Paleo Diet" approach.  Less processed foods, more of a ‘clean’ diet for lack of a better term.

We’ve been "preaching" nutrition quality over nutrition quantity for years. 

Where we don’t agree are in some of the details. 

Alcohol for example – if caveman had beer, I can assure you they would drink it!  All jokes aside, alcohol does have some health benefits if you drink in moderation.  Of course beans and the right grains all have great nutrients.  Same with dairy, if there are no allergies.

Anytime an entire food group is demonized or completely off limits, the diet itself has limitations.

Paleo Diet

There are no miracle diets.

There are not evil food groups.

There is no magic food(s) that boost fat loss.

We guide people to make smarter food choices most of the time.

Show them how to make smart choices when faced with challenging situations.  No need to preach to me or everyone else how YOU eat and pretend that it’s written in stone.  There are a lot of approaches that work — "Paleo" might work for you, though a true nutrition expert can guide people to make appropriate choices for their lifestyle. 

Though telling people not to eat x or y, limit only specific foods because a food causes some type of issue/symptoms is easier than teaching …

… it’s not a solution that can last.  

"Give a man fish and feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime." 

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