Fish Oil Supplements Lower Risk of CVD, Premature Death

OTC Guide, June 2020, Volume 24, Issue 1

The UK Stroke Association noted that rather than focusing on fish oil, individuals should eat fresh foods low in salt and sugar, such as fruits and vegetables, and rich in fiber, such as brown varieties of bread and pasta.

New research has linked regular use of fish oil dietary supplements to a lower risk of premature death and cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as heart attacks and strokes. The research results, published in BMJ, included about a half-million individuals between 40 and 69 years old from the United Kingdom who were enrolled in the UK Biobank study.1

At the start of the study, 113,438 men and women in the data bank noted regular use of fish oil supplements. Using death and hospital records, the investigators examined participants over a 9-year period and found that fish oil supplements were associated with a 13% lower risk of death, a 16% lower risk of dying from CVD, and a 7% lower risk of CVD events, such as a heart attack or a stroke.1

The observational study results could not indicate whether the fish oil supplements or other factors lowered the risk of stroke. However, the authors noted that their analysis showed that benefits were independent of factors such as age, diet, gender, lifestyle habits, medication, and other supplement use.1

“Fish oil users were less likely to be current smokers and more likely to engage in physical activity and eat oily fish. The authors attempted to control for these factors and cautiously concluded that fish oil was associated with lower rates of all-cause and CVD mortality and had modest benefit in terms of CVD events,” Alice H. Lichtenstein, PhD, DSc, MS, the Stanley N. Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the Friedman School of Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, said in an interview with CNN.2

The UK Stroke Association noted that rather than focusing on fish oil, individuals should eat fresh foods low in salt and sugar, such as fruits and vegetables, and rich in fiber, such as brown varieties of bread and pasta.3 The study authors said that further research is needed to examine the extent to which the dose of fish oil supplements influences the ability to achieve a clinically meaningful effect.1

REFERENCES

  • Li ZH, Zhong W-F, Liu S, et al. Associations of habitual fish oil supplementation with cardiovascular outcomes and all cause mortality: evidence from a large population based cohort study. BMJ. 2020;368:m456. doi:10.1136/bmj.m456
  • Hunt K. Fish oil supplements linked to lower risk of heart disease and death, study finds. CNN. March 4, 2020. Accessed March 9, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/04/health/fish-oil-heart-wellness/index.html
  • Eat a healthy diet. Stroke Association. Accessed March 9, 2020. https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/what-can-i-do-to-reduce-my-risk/eat-healthy-diet