Research appearing in the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention (2003; 27(1):55-66) suggests that the type of fat eaten in the diet can either increase or decrease the chances for developing colon cancer. The article reviewed research involving dietary fat and colon cancer. Consumption of medium chain fatty acids and arachadonic acid (a fatty acid found in meat) increased the chances of developing the disease. Consumption of eicosanopentaenoic acid (EPA—found in fish oil) and short chain fatty acids (produced by normal bowel flora) decreased the chances of developing colon cancer.

Scientists at Texas A&M University, in other research, found that eating mostly corn oil or fish oil can affect the fatty acid composition of cell membranes, which in turn can affect whether a cell will become cancerous. The study was performed on rats, which were injected with a carcinogen known to induce colon cancer (azoxymethane). The scientists then looked at individual cells of the colons of the rats fed either fish oil or corn oil diet. The fish oil favors a better cell membrane, which is cancer protective. Fish oil and corn oil diets might create different chemical environments in the colon.