CancerOmega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-6 Fatty Acids

Effect of omega-3 and -6 on colorectal adenoma risk

 Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands have studied the relationship between omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and the risk of colorectal adenoma — a benign tumor.

First, the details.

  • 861 patients with colorectal adenoma or free of this condition were studied.
  • Associations between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid blood levels and colorectal adenoma risk were made using endoscopy.
  • The results were adjusted for age, gender, and alcohol intake.

And, the results.

  • Higher omega-3 blood levels were associated with a significantly lower risk of colorectal adenoma.
  • Higher blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (both omega-3s) and the omega-3/-6 ratio were associated with lower colorectal adenoma risk, but not significantly.
    • When the amount of omega-3 increases relative to omega-6, the ratio goes up.
  • In contrast, increased total omega-6 fatty acids and linoleic acid (an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) were associated with a significant increase in the risk for colorectal adenoma.

The bottom line?
Apparently, this is the first evaluation of omega-3 and -6 in the same study.

But caution, Susan Allport, author of “The Queen of Fats,” warns that omega-6 fatty acids are not “bad.” In fact they are essential for health. We just have too many of them.

9/24/08 20:52 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.