Something fishy about this study

Go ahead, gents -- drink, smoke and eat a whole lot of junk food, because all those things will protect you from prostate cancer.

Crazy? You bet it is... yet you'll find those little gems hidden in the data of a headline-making new study of fish oil and prostate cancer risk.

But that's not the part that's making headlines.

No, the only part the media is focusing on -- and the only part the researchers seem interested in talking about -- is the part that found ever-so-slightly-higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids might (and as you'll see, this might is built on some mighty shaky ground) increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Supposedly, omega-3s will increase the risk of low-grade tumors by 44 percent and more aggressive cancers by 71 percent -- and the authors of the fish oil and prostate cancer study have been urging men to stop taking their fish oil supplements as a result.

And that's just dishonest -- because the REAL headline here is that the study didn't involve any fish oil supplements at all.

Instead, the researchers used data from an older study on vitamin E and selenium -- and as part of that study, the men had their blood levels of omega-3s checked once (yes, only once).

Most of them were actually quite low, with about 40 percent of the levels you typically see in patients taking supplements, according to an analysis by the Alliance for Natural Health.

The levels were also consistently low -- so consistently low that the difference between the "high-risk" group and "low-risk" group amounted to just 0.2 percent, according to another analysis by Council for Responsible Nutrition.

That's not a correlation. That's a pure fluke -- which I guess is the only part of the study that comes close to any kind of fish.

But if you really want proof that this fish oil and prostate cancer study isn't a keeper, just take a look at those other "discoveries" I mentioned earlier -- because if you go by the "high-risk" and "low-risk" groupings the researchers essentially concocted out of thin air, you get some pretty bizarre conclusions.

You'll find, for example, that men who smoke have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Same for men who drink, as well as men who consume the trans-fatty acids found in junk food.

Now, you can believe that fish oil is bad for you and that drinking, smoking and junk food are good for you, or you can believe that this fish oil and prostate cancer study is just a great pile of junk.

I'll leave that up to you.

But personally, I'm not going to stop taking my fish oil supplements -- and I'm advising my patients to keep taking theirs.