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Maybe Grandma was on to something here!!


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Women and Lung Cancer - Could Cod Liver Oil Improve Survival?

Monday August 10, 2009

My Scandinavian, cod-liver-oil-serving grandma was right again – based on the results of a new Norwegian study. Women who used cod liver oil daily for a year prior to their diagnosis of lung cancer, had a 44% lower chance of dying.


Though my grandmother would have turned 100 last week, support for her advice will be published next month in the International Journal of Cancer. Researchers looked at questionnaires completed by over 68,000 women between 1996 and 1999. They then analyzed 2,242 women who developed cancer following the questionnaire and up to the year 2007. Women who used cod liver oil daily, had a 23% lower chance of dying from solid tumors in general (breast, colorectal, and lung cancers), and a 44% reduced risk of dying from lung cancer.

Originally used in northern European countries to offer protection from the cold, cod liver oil was recognized a century ago for it’s role in preventing rickets. With modern day heating, and rickets nearly unheard of in developed countries, grandma’s remedy may extend to the disease dilemma of our time – lung cancer. Lung cancer is predicted to be the leading cause of death worldwide by 2010.

Of course, the use of cod liver oil may not be the real reason for the reduction in lung cancer deaths. I could argue that those people who use dietary supplements may have other lifestyle factors that may improve survival, and that appears to be true. In an earlier study of Norwegian women, it was found that women who consumed cod liver oil had higher levels of education, higher levels of physical activity, and were less likely to be overweight. Cod liver oil consumption was also more common in women who had never smoked, and had a greater daily intake of vegetables, fruits, and fish.

Still, it is a study worth noting. And one that nudged me to put fish on our dinner menu for tonight.

Always talk with your doctor before using any dietary supplements. With lung cancer, some supplements have actually been associated with an increased rather than a decreased risk of developing the disease. Cod liver oil may also interact with some medications, including those used for cancer treatment.

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