(HealthDay News) — Marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3-PUFA) intake is inversely associated with the risk of breast cancer, according to a review published online June 27 in BMJ.

Ju-Sheng Zheng, from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and colleagues reviewed the literature to examine the correlation between intake of fish and n-3 PUFAs and the risk of breast cancer. Twenty-six publications, including 20,905 cases of breast cancer and 883,585 participants, were eligible for inclusion. Of these, 11 articles examined fish intake; 17 articles examined marine n-3 PUFAs; and 12 articles examined alpha linolenic acid.

The researchers observed a significant reduction in the risk of breast cancer associated with marine n-3 PUFA intake (relative risk for highest versus lowest category, 0.86). The risk reduction persisted when marine n-3 PUFAs were measured as dietary intake or tissue biomarkers (relative risk, 0.85 and 0.86, respectively). In studies that did not adjust for body mass index, the association was more evident (relative risk, 0.74, versus 0.90 in studies that adjusted for body mass index).

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For every 0.1 g/day or 0.1% energy/day increase in dietary marine n-3 PUFA intake, there was a 5% reduction in the risk of breast cancer. There was no significant association noted for fish intake or alpha linolenic acid intake.

“Our present study provides solid and robust evidence that marine n-3 PUFAs are inversely associated with risk of breast cancer,” the authors write. “The protective effect of fish or individual n-3 PUFAs warrants further investigation of prospective studies.”