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Cardiovascular diseases

Omega-3 supplements do not protect against cardiovascular disease, meta-analysis shows

A meta-analysis of 79 trials showed that increasing long-chain omega-3 had little or no effect on death from all causes, cardiovascular deaths, cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease deaths, stroke or arrhythmia.

Increasing omega-3 intake does not benefit cardiovascular health, show the results of a recent Cochrane review[1].

The research included 79 randomised controlled trials lasting at least 12 months, most of which involved supplementation with long-chain omega-3, while others involved dietary advice to increase fatty acid intake. In total, the data included 112,059 participants.

A meta-analysis found little or no effect of increasing long-chain omega-3 intake on death from all causes, cardiovascular deaths, cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths, stroke or arrhythmia. There was low-quality evidence that eating alpha-linolenic acid-rich (plant-based) foods may slightly reduce cardiovascular events, CHD deaths and arrhythmia.

Lead author Lee Hooper, a reader in research synthesis, nutrition and hydration at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia, said: “We can be confident in the findings of this review, which go against the popular belief that long-chain omega 3 supplements protect the heart.

“This large systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods; despite all this information, we don’t see protective effects.”

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2018.20205377

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