Fish Oil and Cancer: Research Fraud

by Steven Carney on August 9, 2013

This post is #90 on the site (on recent fish oil research fraud), a collection of breakthrough articles and resources at your fingertips! Whether you have health, life or prosperity/biz challenges, I can help you have the life, health and money you desire! I offer a unique mix of coaching, training and experience based on multiple certifications and overcoming my own life challenges. It’s also fun process!

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Did you notice the media frenzy for fish oil causing or increasing prostate cancer a few weeks ago? I knew the study was ridiculous as soon as I heard it because it made no sense at all! I wrote to several media outlets and guess what? None responded (only autoresponders saying they got my message). That’s because most reporters don’t know what they are talking about and couldn’t answer my challenges.

Misinformation has become an acceptable trade-off for the modern media if it generates sensational headlines. The stations, networks, and media outlets are after ratings, viewers and clicks. It’s so bad now, it’s common to put out highly manipulated stories. Being fast is what counts, not being accurate or balanced! This study was also released in the middle of the July sweeps, a time when media folks go bonkers for even more drama and theatrics in search of viewers! And the medical journals know when the sweeps occur, Nielsen publishes them.

The extreme, unprofessional coverage I’ve seen reveals that the vast majority of people who call themselves reporters, medical professionals or commentators are incredibly gullible and shallow! I’m thinking of all the idiots who thought this bogus study and its ridiculous headlines were real! It shows how poorly they understand research methods, bias, nutrition, and how to determine if a study is credible or not. Most have no clue at all!

Within 1-2 days, I found true experts who also knew the claims that fish oil contributed to cancer were garbage, and I quickly added their links to a previous post I did on fish oil last year (see link for “Fish Oil for Health” and the related notation below post). I also tweeted those updates several times. Unfortunately, I was in the midst of a 2-part series on minerals and needed to finish those first.

More nutritional and medical experts have weighed in since those initial days and a consensus has formed that indeed, the study doesn’t prove what it claims! The study reveals poor methodology and bias. It’s a fraud!

Shocking study revelations

1. The study was retrospective (looking back at old data) and from a different study. It was never designed to study fish oil and prostate cancer! No fish oil or fish consumption was studied or tracked for a single participant! (The actual study information came from the biased SELECT study that looked at vitamin E, selenium and cancer. It ran from 2001 to 2004 with some follow-ups to 2008 when the study was stopped). They decided to recycle the data, like turning a rusty old tin can into a new center piece for the dining table, a common practice when the initial study has null or questionable results. They looked for something they could cobble together that journals would publish. Major medical journals have a history of publishing biased, anti-supplement studies. It’s a way to attack healthcare competition while pretending it’s scientific. Corrupt? Dishonest? Totally!

2. They only took 1 blood sample at the beginning of that SELECT study (also riddled with bias and errors), which started 12 years ago! For this recycle, they tried to extrapolate highly unscientific conclusions about fatty acids in blood plasma (shows unreliable, short-term dietary intake), their origin (they had no idea) and their relationship to prostate cancer (the differences in blood levels between the groups was less than 1%, a meaningless outcome). The big numbers you see in stories, such as a 40% or 70% increases in cancer are based on math manipulation, used to exaggerate a non-finding! It’s how many do research when they want media attention!

3. There are other sources of omega-3 fats besides fish oil, including seafood, nuts, seeds and oils. Plus, a low-fat diet, genetics and metabolism can all affect omega-3 levels. These alternative origins were not documented or tracked, but the foods, eaten within a few hours of the blood test, could have been the source of the fats. Unscientific? Utterly!

4. The researchers showed obvious bias against supplements like fish oil (they maligned supplements and fish oil in their press release), and they manipulated data to get the results claimed, a common practice in pro-drug or anti-supplement research. Contrary to the hysterical reporting, the study subjects had low or average omega-3 levels in their blood, not a sign of a healthy diet or omega-3/6 balance. They weren’t taking lots of fish oil!

5. The subjects with the worst prostate cancer were smokers, drinkers and/or obese (80%), all of which are far bigger contributors to aggressive cancers. Those known risks (called confounding factors), along with diet and lifestyle habits, were not tracked or analyzed because again, the study was never designed to look at fish oil or fish intake and their relationship to prostate cancer (plus many with cancer had higher PSA numbers)! Failure to track these confounding risk factors alone means the study has the stench of weeks-old dumpster slime! Phew!

6. The study never showed any causal relationship between omega-3 fats, fish or fish oil and increased risk, causes or aggressive prostate cancer development. I’m confident that no well-designed, unbiased study will ever demonstrate that fish oil (or fish) causes or worsens cancer. It’s complete nonsense only ignorant people would believe! BTW, fish oil has known, documented anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits which helps to prevent cancer and many other diseases.

The bottom line is this: This “study” didn’t prove what the headlines claim (although these researchers have done this before). What the study does show is how shallow and gullible most researchers, doctors and medical people are! They claim to practice evidence-based medicine but their broad acceptance of these poorly done, anti-supplement studies undercuts any claims that they or the studies are “scientific.” It’s really more crude politics, ego and the vast corruption of money (these biased, anti-supplement studies have been cranked out for years with most doctors and medical people accepting them as real! It’s corruption, not science)!

Dr. Jonny Bowden made an astute observation about the study and the ridiculous media frenzy over it when he said this:

“Before we get to the study itself — and we will — let’s talk about the media, whose reporting here is disgraceful, incompetent, and scientifically illiterate.” (See Huffpost link below for his debunking article and quote).

No matter that the study was junk science: the media went wild for it (they worship wild headlines like these)! The researchers and medical-journal marketing departments know how to play the media with ease. They know the media is desperate for cheap theatrics and more viewers/readers. This was the July sweeps period after all! It was no accident that they study was released and hyped when it was. The medical journals know the sweeps calendar. I predict that all of this was planned months in advance. I don’t believe it was an accident!

The result was exaggerated headlines, breathlessly delivered by numerous local and national news outlets. And the story was everywhere online, hyped there as well! I see dozens who bought the fraud compared to only a handful of those knowledgeable people who debunked the study quickly. That’s a massive failure and an example of how many incompetent reporters we have, ones who essentially do no investigative work whatsoever! It’s not journalism to parrot deceptive headlines and press-release content. It’s laziness turned into a campaign of misinformation!

If you saw or heard about the story, did your local or national outlet provide any opposing views, other research or perspective in their stories? They don’t bother with that kind of balance or perspective any more because it undercuts their breathless hype! It’s the reason I tell readers, clients and friends:

Never trust mass media sources for health, medical or science stories. They don’t know what they’re talking about but they do have an agenda!

The media’s agenda

The truth is that the media has an agenda and it’s not about reporting facts or writing great stories with balance and perspective! Its main mission and goal is to get you to react. They want you to click, follow, like or comment on social media sites. When you do, it’s a win for them because more viewers/readers and clicks bring in more money through ads. They will also know lots about you and your demographic profile (age, gender, education, interests, friends, contacts, etc.). Those stats help them with their marketing, branding and ads. They want you under their sphere of influence.

The modern media is desperate for attention and they report on junk science daily like its real! Most health “news” or “reports” on local and national outlets is garbage, and the amateur reporters (and doctors) who comment rarely have a clue about how science and research actually works. That was certainly true of this study. I’ve seen it dozens of times in recent years.

Never mind those pesky research details, if they think the headline will get a reaction out of you, they will run the story no matter how bogus it may be (see “Medical Bias and Research Fraud” link in the links below. It outlines the many ways research is manipulated and how the media embraces it)!

Behind the media issue is the bias and unprofessional conduct of these researchers and the journal that published this junk study. No doubt this was a real ego boost and money-maker for them. Even through the researchers showed a clear anti-supplement bias (they made some claims that supplements are harmful, see links below for several quotes), I can predict they are already on drug-company short lists to handle more phony, biased anti-supplement research like this! More to come! The drug industry will reward them handsomely!

I condemn those researchers and their use of an old, recycled, retrospective, weak observational study to generate unscientific and dishonest headlines, and also for their bias against supplements, their ignorance of nutrition and their undeniable lack of professional integrity.

They have misinformed the nation and the world (see points 1-6 above to remind yourself how fraudulent the study was). I predict that their ridiculous conclusions will result in more deaths from heart, circulatory or inflammatory-related illnesses. They should never be trusted again!

Snyderman weighs in

Sadly, Dr. Nancy Snyderman at NBC decided to weigh in and I happened to see her report on a local station (channel 9) shortly after the study was released. She is the Chief Medical Editor for “Nightly News” and several other NBC programs per her bio and on the video. Her comments were unprofessional as she presented the study’s wild claims without thorough investigation, opposing points of view, balance, or perspective from nutritional or cancer experts. She presented her reports as though she read the study; I predict that she never read or analyzed it, taking her talking points from a press release riddled with bias and claims beyond the study!

For example, her reports claim that the cancer subjects had high levels of omega-3 fats, and that those can only come from supplements like fish oil. Neither is true, as numerous experts have pointed out (see 1-6 above and links below). She has impugned fish oil as the source, and apparently told the local anchors that she “trusted” the study authors and the NCI/National Cancer Institute (the bogus study was published in their journal).

Snyderman’s reports show strong, anti-supplement bias, resulting in inaccurate, even false reporting. She has failed to adhere to standards of journalism. She has acted more like an industry rep or shill (they make many billions off drugs and procedures; supplements are seen as competition).

In fact, I found a statement about the study on her website. Here’s the link (feel free to review it yourself):

She included a breaking news headline with the date above the title so it was all real dramatic. I’ll paraphrase her headline and statement so it’s not a copyright issue (I’m giving her attribution anyway). If you see her statement, you’ll see I paraphrase her overall meaning accurately): 

New research links fish oil and prostate cancer

New research links omega-3 fats (found in fish oil and fish) to higher risks for prostate cancer in men. Subjects with the most omega-3s had more than 70% risk for high-grade cancer. The research was published in the JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute).

Of course, with or without my paraphrasing, the study showed no such thing. If you saw my 6 points above and look at the links I included below, you will realize how ridiculous her report is! Again, the study didn’t look at, or track fish oil intake and cancer; it proved no such link. Her full online story link is also riddled with false claims, again without any balance from opposing views or insights from other experts. It’s mostly a rephrasing of the same biased press release (they are everywhere for this phony study), again showing more failed journalism.

She embraced a weak, retrospective, observational study, recycled from tests done 12 years ago for a different study (SELECT), one which never documented or tracked any fish oil intake or its effects on prostate cancer. That alone demonstrates how little she knows about this study or what makes a credible study!

Then, I found a video with Brian Williams and Dr. Snyderman hyping the study claims and talking about taking too much fish oil and supplements (again, the study never documented any fish-oil intake, relying on a blood sample from 2001 and simply assuming the source was fish oil).

As stated earlier, most subjects had low, or average blood levels of omega-3s, not high levels. And the source for those blood levels could be a range of foods, diet, genetics, metabolic influences, etc. Based on her comments, Dr. Snyderman doesn’t recognize what average or high omega-3 levels are, or any of the other possible sources, coming across like a gullible amateur.

I can only give Dr. Nancy an epic fail! If you compare the 6 fraud elements I outlined in my points above and her statement (and the links below with more expert debunking), it’s obvious she has misrepresented the research, which was so poorly done, it wasn’t worth anyone’s time or effort. She could have debunked it as many have done. Instead, she has repeated the unproven claims from this biased, fraudulent study.

In fact, when I saw her do her report on the local station, she concluded by saying, “Skip the pills” referring to fish oil. She is quoted elsewhere that she won’t take any more fish oil herself! How professional is that, considering how bogus the study is? I can’t stomach her misinformation and I urge everyone to boycott NBC and Dr. Snyderman, unless you like being lied to by people who claim to be experts when they act more like gullible amateurs.

Although I condemn Dr. Snyderman’s lack of judgement about research, study bias and lack of nutritional knowledge (along with the rest of the mass media), I bet she was given props for making waves and bringing comments/views during the July sweeps! Sadly, people’s health will be adversely affected if they follow her misguided advice. Some could die!

Textbook trash

This ridiculous study and its coverage is a textbook example of how shallow, incompetent and false TV and online media has become. Those outlets present manipulated, slanted stories daily, often with no clue what they are talking about. That’s especially true for health, medical and science news (these problems are even more ridiculous during the sweeps periods)!

But to the modern media, as desperate for attention as a 6-year-old on a sugar high, fraud is good! Drama pays! Hype improves ratings/social media interaction. It’s a win, and with no accountability whatsoever! Plus, they all have legal departments ready to defend their incompetent reporters against any litigation. If challenged, they will simply point to the journal and research as the source.

The ignorance that Dr. Snyderman and other doctors demonstrate by accepting these biased studies is something I’ve seen online and in my personal life for years. They reflect a narrow, cult-like training and adherence to the heavily biased, pro-drug and anti-supplement research they are exposed to in/after medical school (also influenced by drug companies for years). I’m not exaggerating! See links below and many previous posts on health, doctors, myths, and deep corruption in the medical industry. It’s shocking and rampant.

BTW, I just saw a repeat Dr. Oz show from last fall. He had the 3 network TV docs on (LaPook, Besser and Snyderman). I cringed as I heard each one offer shallow comments about nutrition and supplements (that tired, old comment about “expensive urine” was mentioned repeatedly). I thought I was in a time warp! What year is it? I’m guessing the good days, maybe the 1960s or 70s? It’s not even the 21st century if you listen to their dusty, old-fashioned views on nutrition! It’s like the Dark Ages!

I can only suggest that those TV docs read my recent posts on “Vitamins for Health” and “Magic Minerals Part 1 and 2” because there’s far more information in those posts then these TV docs appear to know! Did you realize? A huge majority of practicing docs (70% or more) have little or no training in nutrition (I’ve studied it for many years). Plus, many believe that vitamins and supplements are “unproven” which is nonsensical!

And did you know? The drug industry spends about 50 billion on marketing annually (yes billion)! And much of it is for various gifts to docs and hospitals. They often help to fund and crank out these poorly done, anti-supplement studies often, probably monthly. I personally condemn everyone involved in this charade: researchers, journals, and all the gullible media amateurs who misinformed millions of people and put their health at risk!

What I do differently

In case anyone thinks I fall for quack research like the incompetent media hacks, the answer is no! If you look at my posts, not only are they comprehensive like this one, but I include source links, and many of those include source materials and links. It’s like a network of information.

Hence, anyone can investigate further and I encourage people to do so! I have more than 20 years of research, training and experience in nutrition and health. I’ve faced and overcome many of my own medical and health challenges. And with this newest post, I now have 90 articles on this site (totaling many hundreds of pages), with 15 more published articles on Articlesbase and E-zine.

I also have a Health News/Research page (see tab at top of site), which has hundreds of additional links to mostly human studies and articles with lead-in descriptions. It’s such a big page, I can’t spell check it any more and it crashes sometimes, so I keep a huge back-up file that is more than 50 pages long (I’ve been adding new research links to posts lately). I have many more links to studies and articles on the Tips page and Links/Articles pages as well! All told, I probably have over 1,000 links to outside studies and articles.

Unlike most media hacks, I don’t see single studies as ground-breaking. I choose those where there is a consensus or the study adds to what is known/what I know already. I also use common sense. Not everything needs to be proven with a clinical trial, another falsehood perpetrated by the medical industry.

So unlike many of the amateur, ego-centric media people, I spend many hours researching, composing and editing my content, based on years of experience and training. I’ve also read countless books on health and nutrition and I continue to do health research daily.

That’s why I’m a more credible source for any health, nutrition or anti-aging information! As a true professional, I have an obligation to stay informed so I can offer my clients the latest and best information for their health and longevity!

So if you have questions or doubts about the power of nutrition, check out this site or send a question to:

And if you’re wondering if I have exaggerated my comments about medical corruption, here’s a quote I’m using for a new post I’m writing on medical corruption from Dr. Marcia Angell:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Important links to real experts (including MDs) who shred this and other anti-vitamin studies (again, compare these link insights and debunks to Dr. Snyderman’s positions):

This link also debunks the study with its numerous flaws and includes a graph which shows the minuscule difference in the study groups of less than .2%:

Here are some of many debunks of the original SELECT study (selenium and vitamin E) and prostate cancer (the second link demonstrates how study numbers are manipulated/exaggerated):

This video and write-up by Dr. Chodak shreds the study in serious ways:

This link is to a previous post I did on fish oil where I added an initial commentary and 7-8 links at the end of the post that strongly debunked the fish oil and cancer study when it came out. I also highlight some links that debunk other bad studies on fish oil, as well as studies that are credible in support of fish oil:

These links give some perspective on the historical pattern of how the drug industry and the media falsely attack vitamins and supplements:

(Note: this link is for part 2 of the link above, in case you miss it link at the bottom of the article. It explores the aggressive drug industry spending/influence over doctors and media.)

And these shocking links are from an upcoming post I’m writing on the carnage and deep corruption of the medical industry and drug research (each has additional links at bottom of article):

© 2013 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


yetta August 13, 2013 at 8:07 PM

It appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up itted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything.

kathy August 16, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Hi there! This article could was well written with good info!
My friend has talked about fish oil so I am going to forward this information to him.
Thank you for sharing!

jordan August 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM

A wonderful write-up! Thank you for the great information!

Charles Taylor December 9, 2013 at 4:52 AM

Thank you for this excellent article. Sooner or later the man in the street will realise that he is being misled into unnecessary sickness. Careful analysis like yours must prevail in the end.

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