November 29, 2012
A New Study Supports Benefits Of Fish Oil For Cardiovascular Health
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) recently jumped into the debate on the benefits of fish oil, examining various studies on the substance and explaining why there are so many conflicting results and differing claims.
The findings were recently published in the Journal of Lipid Research. After a thorough review, the team of investigators concluded that dietary omega-3 fatty acid and fish consumption still have possible benefits in limiting heart disease. However, these fatty acids can vary in their effectiveness depending on their sources. Additionally, some of the compounds could have a large impact on serious health problems apart from issues related to heart disease.
On the other hand, the researchers believe that the benefits of modern drug therapies may have made it difficult to distinguish the advantages of consuming omega-3 fatty acids from the effects of other medications.
“After decades of studying omega-3 fatty acids, it´s clear that they have value in the primary prevention of heart disease,” explained the study´s author Donald Jump, an investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute, in a prepared statement.
The researchers describe how studies on fish oil first originated in the 1980s.
“Some of the early studies done on fish oil were prior to so many effective medications being widely available and heavily used,” noted Jump, a professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “And people often forget that nutrients, like fish oils, are less potent than prescription drugs, and often have their best value when used for extended periods."
Over the years, fish oils have been consumed to combat cardiovascular risk factors like high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.
“It´s less clear how much impact fish oils have in preventing further cardiovascular events in people who already have heart disease,” continued Jump in the statement.
“The studies done several decades ago showed value even for that patient population, but the more recent studies are less conclusive. We believe that one explanation is the effectiveness of current state-of-the-art treatments now being offered.”
The scientists pointed out a number of factors that have made it difficult to distinguish the impact of fish oils in the past. For one, researchers are not clear as to the specific amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in farm-raised fish as the fish consume dietary omega-3 supplementation.
“When so many people in these studies are taking a regimen of medications to address the same issues that fish oil might also affect, it´s easy to understand why any added benefit from the fish oils is more difficult to detect,” said Jump in the statement.
Apart from studies looking at the benefits of fish oil on cardiovascular risk factors, other tests have looked at the benefits of fish oil in terms of improving visual acuity, boosting cognitive function and lowering dementia, decreasing inflammation, and reducing total mortality.
“We still believe the evidence is strong that the EPA and DHA content in heart tissues and blood is important to health and to the prevention of cardiovascular disease,” Jump said. “To meet the current recommendations for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, individuals are advised to consume 200-300 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per day.”