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Omega-3 PUFA supplementation not associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality according to new study

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 16, 2012 at 1:31 PM

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357266

What do you guys think about this study? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on September 17, 2012
at 08:27 AM

Thanks to you and Tamara for clearing this up. As I read the sensationalist articles about it in the news papers I knew the conclusion couldn't be as easy as they claimed. I have personally seen many benefits from the intake of omega-3, both from fish and supplement consumption. Too bad that millions of people will now quit supplement with Omega-3 as they will think it is a waste of money. Even if its easily oxidized, I still believe that people who do not consume much seafood could benefit from supplementing with it.

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5 Answers

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2
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 16, 2012
at 10:02 PM

Well, I was finally able to look over this analysis a bit (thanks for the Pdf, Tamara!).

First of all, they included the JELIS study which accounted for 10% of the weight. I would have left it out because it didn't test omega-3 alone, but omega-3 with a statin. Furthermore, the only form of omega-3 in the supplement was EPA only, with no DHA. Without this study, total mortality favors the fish oil even more (although still not in statistically significant territory).

I noticed other answers mentioning the low doses of fish oil being used. It's worth speculating that perhaps total mortality wasn't statistically in favor of the fish oil group because people weren't taking enough to have a huge impact. Along with this, I found it interesting that some of the most supportive fish oil trials (specifically the studies by Von Schackey, Einvik, Raitt, and Sacks) used larger omega-3 doses and lasted at least 2-3 years.

Ultimately though, I think this analysis confirms what I already suspected: fish oil isn't a panacea. It's probably beneficial in a number of ways (especially for the heart), but taking the refined form of an easily oxidized fat probably won't help us live to 150.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on September 17, 2012
at 08:27 AM

Thanks to you and Tamara for clearing this up. As I read the sensationalist articles about it in the news papers I knew the conclusion couldn't be as easy as they claimed. I have personally seen many benefits from the intake of omega-3, both from fish and supplement consumption. Too bad that millions of people will now quit supplement with Omega-3 as they will think it is a waste of money. Even if its easily oxidized, I still believe that people who do not consume much seafood could benefit from supplementing with it.

2
8f44c105868d78ce5f06e91ceeb94129

on September 16, 2012
at 03:09 PM

I agree w/ the 1gr not even being close to a high enough dose. The other issue is was the amount of O6 accounted for? Standard american diet is extremely high in o6. O3 and o6 Compete for the receptors. O6 wins(per Robb Wolff)

2
08527df7a704aad2ddf12a840abe7963

on September 16, 2012
at 02:15 PM

Here's a PDF link: http://extremelongevity.net/wp-content/uploads/fishoil.pdf Most participants in these studies already had cardiovascular disease and the median dose of combined EPA/DHA was 1 gram. That's not enough for a healthy person (from what I've studied) much less someone with cardiovascular disease. I didn't read the whole thing but it said something about the standard treatment being statins. I'm not sure that omega-3s reverse the damage of statins, because I've never heard that. Co-Q10 is supposed to have a protective effect against statins but then again I can't tell if the patients were actually on statins or given Omega-3s in lieu of statins.

1
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 16, 2012
at 01:46 PM

I'm always a bit skeptical of these "Systematic Review and Meta-analysis"...because what it usually means is this "we excluded studies that don't conform to our agenda". I have not done this (don't really have the time to waste), but if you wanna dig into it you have to look at what studies they included/excluded, criteria used to do such, and weight given to the studies available. With systematic reviews I just assume bias until its proven otherwise.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 16, 2012
at 10:08 PM

All...causes...of....mortality.

These always sound like if the reverse was true, a lowering of all causes of mortality, we should live forever....because of fish oil.

Try fish oil. Do your joints feel better? Do you lean out faster? How is your skin? How's your BP and inflammation. Stop taking it. Test again. Did things go south? Yes, start taking it again. No. Don't.

Studies can only control for so much and N=1 trumps what studies say SHOULD happen.

Fwiw, I don't take fish oil. It never did much for me. I have a bottle of CLO and will from time to time put some in a smoothie but then my wife's uncles are fisherman and we get Salmon, Halibut, roe etc... by the 30 pounds so...

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