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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Apr;14(4):835-41.

Dietary marine n-3 fatty acids in relation to risk of distal colorectal adenoma in women.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Epidemiologic studies of dietary marine n-3 fatty acids and risk of colorectal cancer have been inconsistent, and their relation to risk of colorectal adenoma has not been evaluated in detail. We examined dietary marine n-3 fatty acids and the ratio of marine n-3 to total n-6 fatty acids (n-3/n-6 ratio) in relation to risk of adenoma of the distal colon or rectum among 34,451 U.S. women who were initially free of colorectal cancer or polyps, who completed a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire in 1980, and who underwent endoscopy from 1980 to 1998. We documented 1,719 distal colorectal adenoma cases (705 large adenomas, 897 small adenomas, 1,280 distal colon adenomas, and 505 rectal adenomas) during 18 years of follow-up. Neither dietary marine n-3 fatty acids nor n-3/n-6 ratio were associated with risk of total distal colorectal adenoma after adjustment for age and established risk factors [multivariable relative risk (RR) for extreme quintiles of dietary marine n-3 fatty acids = 1.04; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.84-1.27, P(trend) = 0.66; RR for extreme quintiles of n-3/n-6 ratio = 1.02; 95% CI, 0.83-1.25; P(trend) = 0.86]. Similarly, no significant associations were observed separately for distal colon or rectal adenoma. However, higher intake of dietary marine n-3 fatty acids was nonsignificantly but suggestively inversely associated with large adenoma (RR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.54-1.01; P(trend) = 0.16) but directly associated with small adenoma (RR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.02-1.81; P(trend) = 0.09). Our findings do not support the hypothesis that a higher intake of marine n-3 fatty acids or a higher n-3/n-6 ratio reduces the risk of distal colorectal adenoma but are suggestive that higher intake may reduce the progression of small adenomas to large adenomas.

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  • Marine n-3 fatty acids and colorectal cancer: is there a real link? [Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006]
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