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“Something Is Fishy About Fish Oils”

Television, radio and printed advertising is saturated with convincing complimentary ads for fish oil supplementation, but scientific studies are showing either no beneficial effects or they show a downside. Advertisers have claimed for years that fish oil (omega-3) improves heart health because they allegedly increase “good” HDL cholesterol. When scientifically tested, fish oil supplements (omega-3, PUFA) does not live up to the exalted claims of advertisers. Currently, fish oil supplements are indicated for patients with elevated plasma triglycerides to reduce cardiovascular risk. According to a new study, omega-3 supplements are associated with an increased likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation in people with high blood lipids. Some clinical trials have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with an increased risk for atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder. People with the disorder have a five times greater likelihood of having a stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended use as “reasonable” for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in patients with recent events and “might also be considered” in people with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction. To the contrary, the European Society of Cardiology has called a protective effect of omega-3s “debatable at best.” There is agreement that people should get their omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil from food rather than through supplements.

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