- Health Solutions
- Diet & Nutrition
- Skin Care
- Healthy Living
- Resource Center
You are hereHome › Get The Facts About Fish Oil
Get The Facts About Fish Oil
Get The Facts About Fish Oil
The September 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) caught the attention of national media when it featured a study showing that taking fish oil supplements, which contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, does not lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. The Greek researchers concluded, “Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or guidelines supporting dietary omega-3 [supplementation].”
This new study contradicts previous research. Follwing is perspective from cardiologist and researcher Matthew Budoff, MD, who is with the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, and Douglas “Duffy” MacKay, ND, who is vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs with the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Both experts agree that the JAMA study, which was a meta-analysis of previous studies on fish oil, has serious limitations.
“The problem with all meta-analyses is that pooling different studies is prone to error,” explained Budoff. “This study used different cohorts [samples], different doses of EPA and DHA [the active components in omega-3s], and different follow-up methods.”
MacKay agrees. “The attraction of doing a meta-analysis is to combine comparable, smaller clinical studies to assess whether similarities in the combined results exist. The problem is that this meta-analysis combined studies there were not comparable in their design.”
For example, the researchers used studies on both healthy people and people with illnesses. “Many of the studies included in this meta-analysis were conducted on diseased individuals already undergoing treatment with one or more drugs, which may mask the less potent and more long-term effects of omega-3 fats,” said MacKay.
Budoff also explained that the meta-analysis did show some benefit for people taking fish oil supplements. “The JAMA article demonstrates significant improvement in cardiovascular death and strong trends for improvement in both sudden death and myocardial infarction [heart attack],” he said.
The World Health Organization, the American Heart Association and the U.S. National Academies of Science all recommend getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fats for heart health, and none of these organizations have changed their stance in light of this new study.
“Overall, most studies with fish oil show significant benefit, and it should still be considered a supplement for heart health,” said Budoff.
In addition, MacKay pointed out that, fish oil’s virtues extend beyond heart health. “[Fish oil] serves as an affordable, convenient and safe way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids and the array of health benefits they offer,” he said. “Consumers should not discount the many proven benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in all stages of life.”
In this audio interview with Wellness Times, MacKay further explains the limitations of the study, the benefits of fish oils, what various authoritative organizations recommend and why he feels omega-3 should still be considered a valuable supplement.
In addition to being the publisher of Wellness Times, Karolyn is also the publisher of the Natural Medicine Journal, an innovative e-journal for healthcare professionals. She has been writing and publishing wellness information since 1992. She is the author or co-author of hundreds of articles and several books including the two books that she has written with Dr. Lise Alschuler, The Definitive Guide to Cancer and Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan. Along with Dr. Alschuler, she is the co-host of the Five to Thrive Live! radio show on the Cancer Support Network, online at w4cs.com. She is also the author of The Healing Factor, a blog on PsychologyToday.com. For more information, visit www.karolyngazella.com.
September 19th, 2012