A new study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer found consuming more seafood led to a decreased risk for this prevalent type of cancer.

We already love seafood like salmon and shrimp for their heart, brain, and immune health benefits, but a new European study is giving us one more reason to order the catch of the day. Turns out, consuming more fatty, oily fish and lean, white fish could lessen our risk for colorectal cancer, too.

Researchers analyzed the eating habits of more than half a million participants from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study for approximately 15 years. Subjects were specifically asked about their dietary intakes of both fatty and lean fish during this time.

Participants who consumed more of both types of fish on a regular basis—somewhere between 3.5 oz. and 7 oz. per week—had a seven percent lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who did not. Researchers believe this has something to do with the high omega-3 fatty acid content of several popular types of fish, like salmon, trout, and sea bass

This is a major discovery, as colorectal cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer for men and third for women globally. It is also on the rise in young adults, with a 90 and 124 percent expected increase in cases, respectively, for those 20-34 years old in the next decade. 

Looking for delicious, easy ways to eat more fish?

The current recommendation for fish consumption in the U.S. is at least 8 oz. per week, or the equivalent to two, 4-oz. servings. However, a recent study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found Americans are seriously missing the mark. 

Researchers monitored the consumption of various animal proteins in America for almost two decades and found only 15 percent of Americans are actually meeting the weekly recommendations for fish consumption. Most of us were consuming about half the recommendation, on average. The study also found that while we are consuming less than we did 20 years ago, we are still eating too much processed meat (which is considered carcinogenic by the World Health Organization).

The Bottom Line

The authors of this study mentioned they are still unsure as to why fish consumption decreased one’s risk for colorectal cancer, and more studies need to be conducted before touting both fatty and lean fish as a way to prevent this type of cancer. However, it looks like we could all benefit from consuming a little more fish (and a little less processed meat!), as there are plenty of other science-backed reasons to enjoy fresh-caught and frozen fish.