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Dietary α-Linolenic Acid Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Fatal Coronary Heart Disease, but Increased Prostate Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis

Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Journal of Nutrition (Impact Factor: 4.23). 05/2004; 134(4):919-22.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objective of this meta-analysis was to estimate quantitatively the associations between intake of alpha-linolenic acid [ALA, the (n-3) fatty acid in vegetable oils], mortality from heart disease, and the occurrence of prostate cancer in observational studies. We identified 5 prospective cohort studies that reported intake of ALA and mortality from heart disease. We also reviewed data from 3 clinical trials on ALA intake and heart disease. In addition, we identified 9 cohort and case-control studies that reported on the association between ALA intake or blood levels and incidence or prevalence of prostate cancer. We combined risk estimates across studies using a random-effects model. High ALA intake was associated with reduced risk of fatal heart disease in prospective cohort studies (combined relative risk 0.79, 95% CI 0.60-1.04). Three open-label trials also indicated that ALA may protect against heart disease. However, epidemiologic studies also showed an increased risk of prostate cancer in men with a high intake or blood level of ALA (combined relative risk 1.70; 95% CI 1.12-2.58). This meta-analysis shows that consumption of ALA might reduce heart disease mortality. However, the association between high intake of ALA and prostate cancer is of concern and warrants further study.

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    • "Regular flaxseed oil contains between 52% and 63% ALA (C18:3 n-3). Studies (Ramon et al., 2000; Brouwer et al., 2004) have shown a relationship between ALA and an increased risk of prostate cancer. This risk was found to be irrespective of source (e.g., meat, vegetable oil; De Stéfani et al., 2000). "
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    • "This compound belongs to the group of omega-3 fatty acids, commonly occurring in flaxseed, canola oil, soybeans, and walnut oils (Simopoulos 2004; Gruenwald et al. 2004). Oils rich in a-linolenic acid are used to prevent and treat heart diseases, an elevated level of cholesterol and triglycerides in blood, and hypertension (Fiaccavento et al. 2006; Brouwer et al. 2004). 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid– phthalic acid was identified in fresh, white and red Panax ginseng Abd El-Aty et al. (2008), as well as in crude extracts of Alpinia galanga (L.) Willd (Rao et al. 2010). "
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    • "Ecological studies suggest benefits of increasing ALA intake in populations with low overall n-3 PUFA consumption (Zatonski et al., 2008). Results of prospective cohort studies of ALA and CVD have been mixed, with some individual studies observing inverse associations with CHD events but meta-analyses showing no significant overall relationship (Brouwer et al., 2004; Mozaffarian, 2005; Wang et al., 2006; Mente et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The 9th Unilever Nutrition Symposium entitled 'Essential fats for future health', held on 26-27 May 2010, aimed to review the dietary recommendations for essential fatty acids (EFA); discuss the scientific evidence for the roles of EFA in cognition, immune function and cardiovascular health; and to identify opportunities for joint efforts by industry, academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations to effectively improve health behaviour. This paper summarizes the main conclusions of the presentations given at the symposium. Linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA) are EFA that cannot by synthesized by the human body. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is considered as conditionally essential because of its limited formation from ALA in the human body and its critical role in early normal retinal and brain development and, jointly with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), in prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Some evidence for possible beneficial roles of n-3 fatty acids for immune function and adult cognitive function is emerging. A higher consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA; >10%E), including LA, ALA and at least 250-500 mg per day of EPA+DHA, is recommended for prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD). Two dietary interventions suggest that EFA may affect CVD risk factors in children similarly as in adults. To ensure an adequate EFA intake of the population, including children, public health authorities should develop clear messages based on current science; ensure availability of healthy, palatable foods; and collaborate with scientists, the food industry, schools, hospitals, health-care providers and communities to encourage consumers to make healthy choices.
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