Using Cod Liver Oil for Cancer Prevention

red stethoscope on pile of fish oil soft gels

Can you use cod liver oil to help prevent cancer?

In the past, this healthy oil gained a reputation as a cure-all for many health conditions.

Cod liver oil is an excellent source of the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It also contains natural sources of Vitamin A and D.

Preventing your risk for cancer through diet and lifestyle is highly recommended by medical authorities.

One of the most important forefronts in research is the amazing powers of foods that help heal and prevent diseases in your body.

The following research focuses on cod liver oil and how it may help reduce the risk for cancer.

The Effect of Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Cod Liver Oil Cancer Research:

  • Cancer researchers in China found children taking cod liver oil for more than one year had a lower risk for leukemia.

  • A Norwegian lung cancer study revealed that eating a diet including skim milk and cod liver oil lowered risk of lung cancer. There was also a lower risk for lung cancer in the same people who smoked cigarettes.

  • Researchers at the Department of Physiology, Dresden, Germany reported that omega 3 fatty acids showed anti-cancer effects on pancreatic, prostate and breast cancer cells.

    They also believe cancer tumors are more susceptible to chemotherapy when EPA and DHA fatty acids are included in a cancer patient’s diet.

  • The Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality reviewed hundreds of research papers on omega 3 fatty acids and their role in cancer prevention, tumor growth and cancer treatment.

    They concluded that polyunsaturated fatty acids found in cod liver oil, and other fish oils, could have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects which may help suppress the growth of certain cancerous tumors, fight free radicals and inhibit cancer cell growth caused by hormones.

    Researchers concluded that having high eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels in your cell membranes is associated with a lower risk for cancer.

Studies appear to indicate there may be some health benefits from the omega 3 fatty acids found in cod liver oil supplements. However, there is still ongoing debate on using fish oils for cancer due to the conflicting results from various studies.

More research would likely be needed before there can be a definitive link between using cod liver and other fish oils for preventing or treating cancer-related illnesses.

Research References:

Protective dietary factors and lung cancer. International Journal of Epidemiology. 1990;19 Suppl 1:S32-42

Dietary fat intake and risk of lung cancer: a prospective study of 51,452 Norwegian men and women. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 1997 Dec;6(6):540-9. Veierod MB, Laake P, Thelle DS. Section for Medical Statistics, University of Oslo, Blindern, Norway.

A population-based case-control study of childhood leukemia in Shanghai. Cancer. 1988 Aug 1;62(3):635-44. Shu XO, Gao YT, Brinton LA, Linet MS, Tu JT, Zheng W, Fraumeni JF Jr. Shanghai Cancer Institute, Epidemiology Department, People’s Republic of China.

Anticancer actions of omega-3 fatty acids–current state and future perspectives. Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 2009 May;9(4):457-70.


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