by Pamela A. Popper, Ph.D., N.D.
The Wellness Forum
Posted on 11/28/2012
Fish oils pills are still promoted by health professionals who insist that they are good for cardiovascular health. The evidence just does not back up the claim. A large meta-analysis of 89 studies published in 2006 showed no benefit, and a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms it.
This study was also a meta-analysis. Twenty studies with 68,680 participants conducted over the last 24 years were included. The patients included in the studies took an average of 1.5 grams of omega-3 supplements for an average of two years. There was no difference in the "risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction or stroke based on relative and absolute measures of association," the researchers concluded.
In other words, the results were so bad that even when expressed in relative terms, which is how the drugs companies are able to make useless drugs seem beneficial, there was nothing good to report.
It does not seem to matter, however. This study was published in September, and the American Heart Association is still advising people with heart disease to eat fish or take fish oil pills. The following was copied from the AHA's website on November 26, 2012:
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week. Each serving is 3.5 ounce cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Increasing omega-3 fatty acid consumption through foods is preferable. However, those with coronary artery disease may not get enough omega-3 by diet alone. These people may want to talk to their doctor about supplements. And for those with high triglycerides, even larger doses could help.
Not only does research show that the fish oil pills are useless, research shows that all oils promote weight gain and heart disease. I supposed this is one way for the AHA to make sure that it will continue to be in business - patients following the group's advice are likely to end up with progressing heart disease.
The AHA is not alone - an internet search brought up many sites with doctors and nutritionists stating, essentially, that it does not matter what the research shows - they will continue to recommend fish oil pills. As I have said before, my colleagues are not easily convinced by evidence.
The bottom line - stop taking fish oil pills. There is no evidence that they are beneficial and evidence that they are harmful.
Rizos E, Ntzani E, Bika E, Kostapanos M, Elisaf M. "Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." JAMA 2012:308(10):1024-1033
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Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !