Natural Remedies - Omega 3 fatty acids

The British Medical Journal (online, March 31, 2006) has published a study on the risks and benefits of omega 3 fats relating to mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. This is a meta-study - adding and reviewing many previous studies. In this case, they have analyzed 48 random controlled studies (the most reliable, where patients and physicians don't know whether they are receiving a placebo or "the real thing") as well as 41 cohort studies. They state that the trial results were inconsistent, some coming to different conclusions from others. However, the pooled evidence did not show any strong evidence of reduced mortality - the relative risk was 0.87, with a Margin of Error between 0.73 and 1.03, for people taking omega 3 fats. For all cardiovascular events, the risk reduction was 0.95, with a Margin of Error between 0.82 and 1.12; a similar inconclusive result was obtained for cancer risk.

There was no difference in the results when considering supplements versus dietary consumption, nor was there any difference between "long chain" ( from fish, the kind that it is thought we need) and "short chain" (found in certain vegetable oils, need to be converted to long chain molecules to be effective) forms. However, the authors are careful to note that their conclusions differ from those of a previous meta-study, probably because this study includes new results from research perfomed on 3114 participants. They also state clearly that the advice to eat more oily fish should continue, but should be regularly reviewed as new studies emerge.

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Last Modification - March 4, 2006