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Suggestion that Omega-3's do not Reduce Heart Disease Risk Flawed

Lucy Towers
20 March 2014, at 12:00am

US - Recent reporting on two studies published simultaneously failed to look past the surface of the supposed report highlights and expose shortcomings of the research that more than marginalize the headlines, says the National Fisheries Institute.

In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers looked only at omega-3 supplementation and not at omega-3s from dietary sources, such as seafood, a key fact that goes largely unreported. Blanket statements in some headlines and stories regarding the lack of health benefits of eating omega-rich foods like fish are completely unfounded.

Moreover, the study was designed to look at changes in macular degeneration—not cardiovascular events or death— again, a detail that goes largely unreported. Experts agree the study was not robust enough to detect true effect.

In fact, the study authors strongly caution “that these finding should be interpreted cautiously” until additional studies are conducted. Again, not the headline or even a footnote in most reporting.

A second study looking at omega-3 levels and heart risk was published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This meta-analysis study conflated studies of both supplementation and dietary intake of DHA+EPA omega-3’s.

The authors acknowledge that blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in seafood are associated with low levels of cardiovascular disease events. The researchers themselves challenge against sweeping recommendations about dietary fats, particularly recommendations around saturated fatty acids, but do not make recommendations on EPA and DHA Omega 3’s.

Overall, the JAMA study—which looks at omega-3s from seafood—continues to add to the weight of the evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood provide important cardio protective benefits. That is not what the latest erroneous headlines suggest.