Eating more fish may reduce your breast cancer risk

Here is another reason to add fish to your grocery list: Fish may reduce your risk of breast cancer. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines have a substance that provides a “protective effect for breast cancer,” a researcher said. The report was published in the journal BMJ.

A nutrition professor at a university in China, Duo Li, reviewed 21 studies that looked at the health histories of people who ate fish with the fatty acid known as n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs. The studies, which had been previously published, involved more than 800,000 women in the United States, Europe and Asia, and 20,000 cases of breast cancer.

The National Institutes of Health explains that PUFAs in fish are involved in the brain’s chemical messages, helping to regulate blood vessel activity and the immune system. Fatty acids in fish are linked to other health benefits, most notably lowering risk factors for heart disease.

The review showed that women with a diet high in PUFAs had a 14 percent reduction in breast cancer risk, the NIH said. Getting specific, his report notes that for every 0.1 gram per day increase, there was a 5 percent lower risk of breast cancer. So, what does that mean? “One to two servings of oily fish per person per week is suggested,” the professor said.

Although he does not know the exact reason PUFAs result in less breast cancer risk, Li said the fish fatty acids may help regulate cell growth and the spread of cancer cells. It also could be that people who eat more fish also have other healthy habits such as exercising more.

Fish may not be a cure-all, but two servings a week of the right varieties will do a body good.

Here is a resident’s recipe to try, from the Topeka Presbyterian Manor cookbook:

  • 2 8-ounce salmon steaks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 green onion, sliced

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Top with butter and lemon juice. Combine onion, parsley, garlic salt and lemon pepper; sprinkle over salmon.

Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.