Analysis Casts Doubt on Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements
Is there something fishy going on with omega-3 fatty acids?
For years, major health and medical organizations have recommended fish oil supplements rich in omega-3s to reduce the threat of heart disease. In Europe, where support is particularly enthusiastic, a doctor’s failure to recommend the supplements is viewed by some as bordering on malpractice.
But several recent studies have raised questions about the benefits of fish oil, sparking no small amount of confusion. A report published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. clouded the picture further by concluding that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids did not lower the risk of heart attack, stroke or premature death.
The study, by medical researchers at the University of Ioannina in Greece, did not involve a new clinical trial of the supplement. Instead, it reexamined the results of 20 previous studies dating back to 1989 that included nearly 70,000 patients.
Among other observations, study authors said that early trials of omega-3 supplements and cardiovascular health “showed strong, significant effect.” However, as more randomized studies were performed, “the effect became weaker and nonsignificant.”