I wonder why they keep testing to see if omega-3 fatty acids are healthy for us.
Can anyone enlighten me?
It’s been a done deal since ever I was a budding physician. If you couldn’t wait for the “modern” science, there is always the simple demographic, that eskimos historically never died of heart disease or stroke. Their diet was hugely fat based, including plenty of fish sources (DHA and eicosapentanoic acid). Case closed.
Well, they did another study, just to be sure! (we’ll come to the real reason in a moment).
Basically, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, found those subjects with the highest levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) had the lowest levels of mortality. 1
All-cause mortality fell by 27%, with most of the benefit due to a reduction in cardiovascular death. The rate of arrhythmic death, in particular, fell by nearly one-half. This translated into an average of about 2.2 extra years of life, just from this one nutritional intervention.
Such cardiovascular-outcome effects are consistent with abundant evidence from laboratory and clinical studies that omega-3 intake may benefit heart rate, blood pressure, myocardial contractile function and electrical stability, and endothelial, autonomic, and hemostatic function, write the study’s authors, led by Dr Dariush Mozaffarian. Bit of a mouthful, but you get the point.
Here’s what the average quack… sorry, doctor, will miss out on:
- Docosahexaenoicacid (DHA) gave more benefit than eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); but both together had the greatest effect of all (I could have told them that, from 40 years of clinical practice).
So, Why Are We Doing This?
Well…I had a peep under the hood and our Dr Mozaffarian is paid by GlaxoSmithKline, who just happen to produce a brand of mixed EPA/DHA supplements (Lovaza)! I’m not suggesting he was bribed or there is anything suspect; just that these things should be up front, not hidden in the small print, as it were.
And just last year, the FDA approved the synthetic EPA-only preparation Vascepa (Amarin), which contains ethyl eicosapentaenoic acid.
From the usual goings on, we understand that they have added an ethyl bit, to make a natural fish-oil into something patentable. It’s crazy.
But it would be mad to consider taking these synthetic substitutes for something that Nature does so well (The local river or a fish merchant has ALL you need!)
But be warned: they added a methyl bit to testosterone years ago, to make it patentable (methyltestosterone). But that resulted in it becoming cancerous and deadly. Ever since then, testosterone supplements have been looked on as carcinogenic by stupid, uninformed medical workers.
Ethylated omega-3s should be looked upon as carcinogenic, until proved safe (about 30 years from now!).
1. [April 2, 2013 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine]