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You may have read an article like this one or heard a report on the evening news like this within recent weeks discounting the usefulness of fish oil or Omega 3 supplementation in heart disease. Here, Dr. David Katz beaks down the meta-analysis (a study of studies) behind those discussions and explains why the value of Omega 3’s is not up for debate. He especially points out that the studies used looked at patients already powerful medications; that fish oil showed any effect in this population (and it did!) is somewhat profound; most pharmaceutical drugs would not be able to stack up against those odds.
What is more, the study highlights an important philosophical difference between how we focus at Sunrise Natural Medicine and current medical thought: prevention versus treatment. The study making headlines indicates that omega 3 supplementation has little to no effect on cardiovascular events and death when used in high risk populations already on significant medical intervention. It does not analyze the usefulness of omega 3 fatty acids in preventing inflammation–the cause of most cardiovascular disease–in the first place. Though it has been my clinical experience that Omega 3 supplementation can be very useful as treatment for various problems (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis to name a few), based on my knowledge of how the body works it seems that the BEST use of these Omega 3’s is in disease prevention and in helping to optimize body function before significant disease occurs. Too bad prevention is so hard to study! Fortunately, physiology and biochemistry are not hard to study and those -ologies form the basis for many body-normalizing, health-optimizing recommendations.
For more information about Omega 3 fatty acids, their uses in the body, their health benefits, and the science around them, listen to this interview on the Diane Rehm Show. The first 12 minutes have a lot of great information; the whole show is about an hour long.