While those with heart disease and diabetes often benefit from fish oil (the primary source of DHA in the diet),24, 25 such people should check with their doctor before taking more than 3 or 4 grams of fish oil per day for several months. Elevations in blood sugar have sometimes been reported,26 though this may simply be due to small increases in weight resulting from high dietary fish oil.27 While DHA combined with EPA from fish oil consistently lowers triglycerides, it occasionally increases LDL cholesterol.28
According to a report in a Japanese medical journal, three people at high risk for colon cancer developed a variety of cancers after one to two years of supplementation with DHA.29 To date, this report has not been confirmed by other researchers. To the contrary, test tube studies report that DHA is toxic to cancer cells30 and may someday be considered as an adjunct to conventional treatment for cancer.31 Similarly, animal studies suggest that DHA may inhibit cancer.32
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.