February 3, 2018

Omega-3 Supplements Don’t Protect Against Heart Disease

Nicholas Bakalar—The New York Times:

Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, the oils abundant in fatty fish, are ineffective for the prevention of heart disease, a large review of randomized trials has found.

No matter how the researchers looked at the data, they could find no association of the supplements with lowered risk for death from heart disease, or with nonfatal heart attacks or other major cardiovascular events.

A meta-study (a study of multiple study results) of supplement use produced similar results a few years ago. I stopped taking the not-inexpensive fish oil supplements recommended by my doctor shortly thereafter.

That meta-study had showed that as survey population sizes increased, the observed efficacy of fish oil supplements declined to the point where the average result for coronary health was neither positive nor negative. Gaining more study patients had caused edge cases and clusters of similar results to exert less influence.

This new study’s result fully dooms the first oil  recommendation:

There was no effect in people with prior coronary heart disease, those with diabetes, people with high lipid levels, or in people using statins. There was no evidence for an effect in either women or men considered separately.

“Carefully done trials provide no support for the hypothesis that fish oil supplements help,” said the senior author, Dr. Robert Clarke, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford.

The old phrase there is no magic bullet is apropos of these results. Some people are genetically predisposed to gradually occluding coronary arteries, and for them we have coronary catheterization and stents (for now).

For the rest of us the old advice is still the best: eat well and exercise. Find a population whose heart health is remarkably good despite a mix of sexes, ethnicities, and lifestyles, and adopt their diet while incorporating significant cardio-vascular exercise into your life. Ten to twenty miles of walking per week is a good start.

#cardioVascularHealth #study #fishOil #omega3FattyAcids