Last March my wife, Inge, and I were having lunch in San Francisco on Polk Street during the annual Orthomolecular Health Medicine conference with Robert Rowan, MD and his wife Terri Su, MD. Dr. Rowan, publisher of 2nd Opinion Newsletter from Santa Rosa, CA and never shy about dropping bomb shells, said “You know fish oils are actually very bad for you”. At first I thought he was just pursuing his vegetarian agenda and then he said that we should get to know the work of Brian Peskin. Peskin, a researcher and author of the book The Hidden Story of Cancer1 gives an extensive review of fatty acid metabolism in his book and thinks that we should all be beholding to Otto Warburg, MD, PhD, the German Nobel Prize winner, who discovered in 1925 that all cancer cells become cancerous because of lack of oxygen at the cellular level (we are made of 100 trillion cells which do all of our body’s work). He notes that 100 years ago the incidence of death by cancer in the United States was 3 percent and now it is at least 40 percent. He points the finger of guilt at modern food processing which creates damaged fats and oils to extend shelf life. These bad fats lead to abnormal cell membranes that are unable to move oxygen into the cell and promote cancer.
Wounding the Sacred Fish
What could be more sacred than fish oil supplementation for our health? Peskin thinks we have all been making a big mistake. He reviews numerous scientific studies which support his position and can’t be ignored.
In cardiovascular disease consuming fish or fish oil supplements had no effect or negative effects on plaque formation, angina (heart caused chest pain) and cardiovascular-related deaths2-5. Fish oils increased platelet aggregation (clotting blood cells) by reducing PGI2, prostacyclin, which increases platelet disaggregation, by 42%6. Omegas 3’s (fish oil) were not found helpful in abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) but omega 6’s were7. Fish oil had no effect on preventing arterial inflammation8.
In diabetes blood sugar control of type I diabetes worsened during fish oil administration. The insulin dose had to be increased in all patients and the HbA1c (average blood sugar level) increased 16% after six months of fish oil administration9. In type II diabetes (adult onset diabetes) there was a 19% rise in fasting glucose levels and a rise of 24% mean glucose levels within one month of fish oil supplementation. Glucose tolerance also deteriorated significantly10.
Suppression of the immune system by fish oil was studied at the University of Southampton, UK and was noted to cause a decrease in a wide range of immune cell responses. The decrease of lymphocyte proliferation (white cells) and natural killer cell activity caused increased cellular bacteria and impaired tumor cell killing11.
Mice developed late stage colon cancer when given high or low dosages of fish oil. With increased inflammation it only took four weeks for the tumors to develop. Contrary to researchers expectations dietary fish oil induced severe colitis and adenocarcinoma (cancer) formation12.
In Alzheimer disease fish oil compared with placebo did not slow the rate of cognitive decline in mild to moderate disease 13.
What are the good oils?
According to Peskin our cell membranes need a preponderance of omega 6 fatty acids, oxygen magnets, to keep our intracellular chemistry happy and able to transmit oxygen into our cells. He recommends a 2 to 1 supplemental ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s based on omega 6 fatty acids and uses primrose, flax, sunflower, sesame, safflower, pumpkin seed and coconut oils as his ideal mixture which should improve our health spectrum in nearly every way14. He spends about 700 pages of his book bringing this message home. Interestingly, the only oils the skin or epithelial tissues use are omega 6. Skin cancers and adenomas arising from our bodily linings may be due to lack of fully functional omega 6 fatty acids. Damaged oils, especially damaged omega 6’s may be responsible for our cancer epidemic. It may take as long as 18 weeks to purge our bodies from excessive, harmful omega 3’s. I am converting all my patients to these plant based oils and I hope you do too.
The Hidden Story of Cancer by Brian Scott Peskin, BSEE, MIT with Amid Habib, MD Pinnacle Press 2011.
Angerer, P., et al., Cardiovascular Research; 54:183-190, 2002.
“The Effect of Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Coronary Atherosclerosis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial,” Clemens von Schacky, et al., Annals of Internal Medicine; 130:554-562, 1999.
“Controlled Trial of Fish Oil for Regression of Human Coronary Atherosclerosis,” Frank M .Sacks, et al., Journal of the American College of Cardiology Vol. 25, No.7, June 1995: 1492-8
Burr, et al., “Lack of benefit of dietary advice to men with angina: results of a controlled trial,” Eur J Clin Nutr 2003, 57:193-200
Knapp, H, et al., “In vivo indexes of platelet and vascular function during fish-oil administration in patients with atherosclerosis,” The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 314, April 10, 1086, No. 15, pages 937-042.
“Dietary fatty acids and ischemic arrhythmias,” Riemersma, RA, et al., Lancet, 1988; i:285-6
Current Atherosclerosis Reports; 6:461-457, 2004, Mori, Trevor, et al., “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammation.”
“Dose Response Effects of Dietary Marine Oil on Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism in Normal Subjects and Patients With Hypertriglyceridemia,” Stacpooole, P, Alig, A., Ammon, L, and Crockett, E., Metabolism, Vol. 38, No 10, 1989, pages 946-956.
“Adverse Metabolic Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus,” Glauber, H. et al., Annals of Internal Medicine, 1998; 109:663-668.
“Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Inflammation and Immunity,” Philip C. Calder, Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, UK presented at The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids 4th Congress in Tsukuba, Japan. June, 2000.
“Link Between Fish Oil and Increased Risk of Colon Cancer in Mice,” Medical News Today (Colorectal Cancer), Article URL: www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/203683. php#post, October7, 2010: and Woodworth, Hillary, L., et al., “Dietary Fish Oil Alter T Lymphocyte Cell Populations and Exacerbates Disease in a Mouse Model of Inflammatory Colitis,” Cancer Res 0008-5472. CAN-10-1396; Published OnlineFirst August 26, 2010; doi:10.1158/0008-5472. CAN-10-1396. Cancer Res; 70(20); 7960-9.
Quinn, J, et al., “Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation and Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer Disease: A Randomized Trial,” Journal of the American Medical Association, November 3, 2010 Vol. 304, No. 17, pages 1903-1911.
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