Cochrane Reviews Fish Oil Supplements To Reduce Premature Births

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“omega 3” by Khaldaa Photographer is licensed under CC BY 2.0Philippa Middelton MPH

Associate Professor
Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
Adelaide, Australia 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: For several decades, it has been known that fish or fish oils can lengthen gestation.
In our Cochrane review of 70 studies and nearly 20,000 women we show that fish oil (mainly as omega-3 fatty acid supplements), prevents premature birth, specifically

  • An 11% reduction in premature birth < 37 weeks gestation;
  • And a 42% reduction in premature birth < 34 weeks gestation.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Anxiety

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“omega 3” by Khaldaa Photographer is licensed under CC BY 2.0Yutaka MATSUOKA, MD, PhD

Division Chief of Health Care Research,
Behavioral Sciences and Survivorship Research Group,
Center for Public Health Sciences,
National Cancer Center Japan

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Anxiety is the most commonly experienced psychiatric symptom. We have now two major treatment options that include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy.  However, CBT is time-consuming, costly, and limited in availability. And there is concern over potential side effects in pharmacotherapy. Evidence-based and safer treatment options are required. Omega-3 fatty acids have potential preventive and therapeutic effects on depression and anxiety. Clinical and preclinical studies support the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment for anxiety disorders. Despite the largely positive findings of these trials, the clinical application of the findings is unfortunately limited by their small sample size.

Improvement in anxiety symptoms were associated with omega-3 fatty acids treatment compared with controls. The anxiolytic effects of omega-3 fatty acids were also stronger in patients with clinical conditions than in subclinical populations.  Continue reading

Can Probiotics and Fish Oil Supplements During Pregnancy Reduce Childhood Allergies?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Robert Boyle, 
Reader in Paediatric Allergy
Department of Medicine
Imperial College London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Diet in early life may influence whether or not an infant develops allergies or autoimmune disease. We undertook a project for the UK Food Standards Agency to evaluate the evidence for this.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: We found that a probiotic supplement during the last 2-4 weeks of pregnancy and during breastfeeding may reduce an infant’s chances of developing eczema; and that omega-3 fatty acid supplements taken from the middle of pregnancy (20 weeks gestation) through the first few months of breastfeeding may reduce an infant’s chances of developing food allergy. We also found links between longer duration of breastfeeding and improved infant health, but for most other variations in diet during pregnancy or infancy we did not find evidence for a link with allergies or autoimmune disease.

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Which Diet Is Best For You? It Depends On Your Genes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kaixiong (Calvin) Ye, PhD Post-doctoral Associate Dept. of Biological Statistics & Computational Biology Cornell University thaca, NY

Dr. Kaixong Ye

Kaixiong (Calvin) Ye, PhD
Post-doctoral Associate
Dept. of Biological Statistics & Computational Biology
Cornell University
thaca, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are critical for human brain development, cognitive function, immune response, and cardiovascular health. Physiologically active forms of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, such as AA, EPA, and DHA, are readily available in meat and seafood, but are absent in most plant-based foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables). Instead, plant-based foods contain two precursor fatty acids, LA and ALA, which could be metabolized in our body and converted into physiologically active forms. Fatty acid desaturase (FADS) genes encode key enzymes for this biosynthesis.

We hypothesized that genetic variations in FADS genes that enhance the biosynthesis efficiency were adaptive to plant-based diets in traditional farming populations and thus became more frequent over time. Our study compiled a huge data set of genetic information (DNA) from both present-day and ancient individuals. For the first time, we examined the action of natural selection on humans for the past 30,000 years in Europe.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Improves Luteal Function in Obese Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alex J. Polotsky, MD Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Colorado Denver Practice homepage

Dr. Polotsky

Alex J. Polotsky, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Colorado Denver
Practice homepage

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It has been well established that profound dietary changes occurred over the past 100 years. The type and amount of fat consumed has changed quite a bit over the course of 20th century. Intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), previously consumed in large quantities by humans from vegetable and fish sources, has dropped significantly. The typical Western diet (sometimes also called the typical American diet) provides an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of as high as 25:1, which is quite different from what it used to up until about the 19th century (believed to be about 1:1 ratio).

In animal studies, diets enriched with omega-3 PUFA enhance early embryonic development and boost progesterone secretion. Obesity is well known to be associated with decreased progesterone production in women (even if a obese woman ovulates). The reasons for this are not clear. Obesity is also a state of low-grade chronic inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are well known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

We sought to test whether dietary supplementation with omega-3 PUFA favorably affects reproductive hormones in women and whether this effect includes normalization of progesterone production in obesity.

All women in the study tolerated supplementation well, and had significantly decreased their omega-6 to omega-3 ratios (they were normalized much closer to a 1:1 ratio). Omega-3 supplementation resulted in a trend for increased progesterone in obese women, thus enhancing ovulatory function. A 16 to 22 percent increase was observed. Additionally, the supplementation resulted in reduced systemic inflammation.

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Meta-analysis of Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dominik D Alexander, PhD, MSPH

Principal Epidemiologist
EpidStat Institute
Ann Arbor, MI Seattle, WA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In recent years, the body of scientific literature on n-3 LCPUFA (EPA/DHA) intake and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk has exploded with mixed results. It was only logical to conduct a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to estimate the effect of EPA+DHA on CHD, and to conduct a comprehensive meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies to estimate the association between EPA+DHA intake and CHD risk.

Among RCTs, there was a nonstatistically significant reduction in CHD risk with EPA+DHA
provision (SRRE=0.94; 95% CI, 0.85-1.05). Subgroup analyses of data from RCTs indicated a statistically significant CHD risk reduction with EPA+DHA provision among higher-risk populations, including participants with elevated triglyceride levels (SRRE=0.84; 95% CI, 0.72-0.98) and elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (SRRE=0.86; 95% CI, 0.76-0.98). Meta-analysis of data from prospective cohort studies resulted in a statistically significant SRRE of 0.82 (95% CI, 0.74-0.92) for higher intakes of EPA+DHA and risk of any CHD event.

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Balancing Omega 6 to Omega 3 To Prevent and Manage Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D. FACN President, The Center for Genetics Nutrition and Health Washington, DC 20016

Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos

Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D. FACN
President, The Center for Genetics
Nutrition and Health
Washington, DC 20016

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: I have written extensively on the evolutionary aspects of diet, the diet of Crete prior to 1960 in which I pointed to the misinterpretation of the data of the Seven Countries Study by Keys et al. A major characteristic of these diets is a balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio.

The recommendation to substitute saturated fats with omega-6 rich oils (sunflower, corn, soybean) increases inflammation and coronary heart disease. It has been shown in a number of studies that a high omega-6/omega-3 (20/1 instead of a balanced ratio) leads to an increase in white adipose tissue and prevents the formation of brown adipose tissue leading to obesity. The changes in the diet-high in omega-6 oils depletion of omega-3 and high fructose along with highly refined carbohydrates in processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle lead to obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer.

The scientific evidence from the FAT-1 mouse and recent cohort studies clearly show that the current dietary guidelines as the previous ones are not based on science that takes into consideration genetics, metabolism, the concept that a calorie is not a calorie. It is important to consider that nutrients influence the expression of genes, the omega-6 fatty acids are the most pro-inflammatory nutrients, and inflammation is at the base of all chronic non-communicable diseases.

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Linoleic Acid (Omega-6) in Fatty Tissue Linked To Lower Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David Iggman, MD, PhD Unit for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences Uppsala University, Uppsala Center for Clinical Research Dalarna Falun, Sweden

Dr. David Iggman

David Iggman, MD, PhD
Unit for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism
Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences
Uppsala University, Uppsala
Center for Clinical Research Dalarna
Falun, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is some controversy regarding which dietary fats are preferable and in what amounts, not least regarding the polyunsaturated fats. It is also challenging to adequately assess peoples intakes of dietary fats.

The main findings of this study was that among fatty acids in the body (reflecting the intake during the last year or so), linoleic acid (omega-6) was associated with lower mortality in 71-year-old men with 15 years follow-up.

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Omega-3 fatty Acids May Reduce Cardiac Scarring After Heart Attack

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Raymond Y. Kwong, MD MPH Director of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging Associate Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School

Dr. Raymond Kwong

Raymond Y. Kwong, MD MPH
Director of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: In the past several decades, Omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA) primarily from fish oil have been reported to have many beneficial effects, either directly on the heart or through other effects that indirectly help the heart. However, when it was tested on patients who suffered an acute heart attack by looking at whether patients can live longer by taking omega-3 fatty acids early after the heart attack, there has been some conflicting data in some of the large clinical trials.

There are several major factors that inspired the designs of the current OMEGA-REMODEL study:
a) Over recent years, many highly effective treatments to improve the survival of heart attack victims have become routine.
b) The studies in the past used a relatively lower dose of  Omega-3 fatty acids (1g per day).
c) Some have also raised the question whether just patient mortality should be the only/best way we should considered in assessing new treatments for heart attack patients.
d) Cardiac remodeling: after a heart attack, heart muscle not damaged by the initial heart attack insult has to overwork to compensate for the damage from the heart attack. Over time scarring may form in the overworked heart muscle, in addition to weakened heart function, may lead to the heart to fail.
e)New imaging method: a MRI of the heart, can precisely determine the heart function and the amount of scarring of the overworked heart muscle not damaged from the heart attack.

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Large Harvard Study Confirms Health Benefits of Unsaturated Fats

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel (Dong) Wang, MD, ScD, Research Fellow Department of Nutrition | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115

Dr. Wang

Daniel (Dong) Wang, MD, ScD, Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA 02115

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been widespread confusion in the biomedical community and the general public about the health effects of specific types of fat in the diet. In particular, the role of unsaturated fats vs. saturated fat in cardiovascular disease prevention remains controversial. Our study is by far the most detailed and powerful examination of this very important research topic, i.e., health effects of specific types of dietary fats, because of very large sample size (more than 120,000 men and women), repeated and validated measurements of diet and lifestyle over an extended follow-up (up to 32 years). In addition, our study is able to examine a much broader range of outcomes, including total mortality and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease.

We found that different types of dietary fat had different associations with mortality. Consuming higher amounts of unsaturated fats- mainly from plant-based foods like olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil and nuts – was associated with lower mortality, while higher consumption of saturated-found in red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream- and trans fats- predominantly from hydrogenated oils- was linked with higher mortality compared with the same number of calories from carbohydrates. Most importantly, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats conferred substantial health benefits, including lowering risk of all-cause premature death and premature death due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Fish May Benefit Those At Risk of CAD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Marcus E. Kleber
Fifth Department of Medicine (Nephrology, Hypertensiology, Endocrinology, Diabetology, Rheumatology), Medical Faculty of Mannheim
University of Heidelberg
Mannheim, Germany

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many epidemiological studies found inverse associations between the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, and cardiovascular disease and mortality. On the other hand, most clinical trials that investigated the effect of omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular risk failed to show a benefit. Therefore, the role of omega-3 fatty acids is still debated controversially. One problem with clinical trials is that they usually do not screen their participants for their initial omega-3 status. In our study we measured the omega-3 status of our participants using a very reliable and validated method and found an inverse association of EPA and DHA with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

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Meta-analysis Reassesses Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Major Depressive Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Roel JT Mocking Program for Mood Disorders Department of Psychiatry Academic Medical Center University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dr. RJT Mocking

Dr. Roel JT Mocking
Program for Mood Disorders
Department of Psychiatry
Academic Medical Center
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation (popularly referred to as fish oil) is being promoted as (add-on) treatment for depression. Thus far, many studies have been performed that tested the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in depression. In order to overcome differences between these results of individual studies, a meta-analysis can be performed. A meta-analysis pools the results of all individual studies, and thereby provides a more definitive conclusion regarding the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in depression. Moreover, using the differences between the individual studies, a meta-analysis can point to factors that are associated with a better effect of the supplementation, for example supplementation dose or duration.

There have been meta-analyses performed previously, but they seemed to contain several inconsistencies. For example, they accidentally included the same study two or three times, which results in errors. In addition, these meta-analyses did not only include studies performed in patients with the psychiatric disorder “major depressive episode”, but also subjects from the general population with less severe depressive complaints. This makes it more difficult to interpret the results. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis that included only studies performed in patients with major depressive disorder, and corrected errors from earlier meta-analyses.

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Organic Milk and Meat Contain About 50% More Omega-3 Fatty Acids Than Conventional Products

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Chris Seal and
Professor Carlo Leifert
Nafferton Ecological Farming Group (NEFG),School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University
Nafferton Farm, Stocksfield, Northumberland UK

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: In 2009 an FSA-sponsored study by Dangour et al. was published and concluded that there are no composition differences between organic and conventional crops and animal (meat and dairy) products. This contradicted the results of literature reviews, field experiments and retail surveys that many of the scientists involved in the EU-FP7 project QualityLowInputFoods (www.qlif.org/) had carried out or were in the process of completing in 2009.

We therefore decided to put together an international team of scientists and carry out a larger, updated systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses to determine whether or not the Dangour et al (2009) study was justified in drawing the conclusions they had.  This took 5 years to complete. We reported on crops in 2014 (http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF/crops/) and the studies published now report the results on meat (http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF/meat/) and milk/dairy products (http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF/dairy/).

Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Response: 

  • both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products
  • organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats (myristic and palmitic acid) that are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • organic milk contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids
  • conventional milk contained around 70% more of the essential mineral iodine and slightly more selenium

We feel the most important results in terms of nutrition is that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. Organic milk had 57% higher concentrations of the nutritionally most desirable, very long chain (VLC) omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fatty acid profiles in milk are known to change very little during processing in to high fat dairy products such as butter and cheese. Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and better immune function. The European Food safety Authority (EFSA) estimates that average dietary intakes of VLC omega-3 fatty acids account for less than half of what we need for optium health.

The finding of substantially higher concentrations of iodine in conventional milk is also important information, especially for UK consumers, where iodized table salt is not widely available and dairy products are an important source of this nutrient. However, it should be pointed out that the Organic Milk Marketing Co-operative (OmsCo) has recently increased iodine fortification of organic dairy feeds and reports that levels of iodine in organic milk are now similar to those found in conventional milk (www.omsco.co.uk/_clientfiles/pdfs/omsco-iodine-levels.pdf).

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Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Effect Major Depressive Disorder?

Katherine Appleton PhD Associate Professor In Psychology Bournemouth Unviersity

Dr. Appleton

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Katherine Appleton PhD

Associate Professor In Psychology
Bournemouth University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Appleton: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by depressed mood and/or markedly decreased pleasure or interest in all activities. It has negative impacts on the individual and on society, often over the long term. One possible treatment for MDD are n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFAs), also known as omega-3 oils, naturally found in fatty fish, some other seafood and some nuts and seeds. Various lines of evidence suggests that n-3PUFAs may impact on depressive symptoms, but a lot of studies have different findings, making it difficult to draw conclusions.

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No Benefit of Omega-3 acid Supplements for Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction in Asthma

John Brannan PhD Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St Joseph’s Healthcare & McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, CanadaMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
John Brannan PhD

Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St Joseph’s Healthcare & McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: The use of omega-3 acid supplements as treatments for allergic diseases including asthma is controversial. Studies by investigators from Indiana University in the USA have repeatedly demonstrated a beneficial effect of high dose omega-3 fatty acid supplements over 3 weeks in attenuating exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) similar or possibly better in potency to what may be expected with a regular inhaled corticosteroids. The study by Brannan et al. attempted to validate these findings by using inhaled mannitol, a bronchial provocation test that was derived from the understanding of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction and which has demonstrated experimentally to be a useful model for exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. All pharmacotherapies that modify exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can modify the airway sensitivity to inhaled mannitol in persons with asthma, thus it was of interest to see if an ‘alternative’ treatment that demonstrated efficacy in exercise-induced bronchoconstriction could too modify the airway response to mannitol.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings were, to our surprise, there was no benefit of high dose omega-3 fatty acid supplements on bronchial hyperresponsiveness to mannitol over 3 weeks. This was associated with no changes in airway inflammation (sputum eosinophils), lung function or asthma symptom control. We also found no benefit on resting urinary mast cell metabolites, in contrast to the findings in studies showing a benefit of omega-3 fatty acids on EIB. Our findings suggest that omega-3 supplements in tissues may not be able to penetrate tissue and/or modify the substrate flow of eicosanoids in tissue such as the airways of the asthmatic. We did observed the expected reductions in blood triglycerides which suggests that these doses of omega-3s can modify metabolism in the blood or to some extent tissues that are highly perfused.

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Omega-3 Fish in Diet May Reduce Cancer Risk

James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD Associate Editor BMJ Open Heart Cardiovascular Research Scientist Saint Luke's Mid America Heart InstituteMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD
Associate Editor BMJ Open Heart
Cardiovascular Research Scientist
Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. DiNicolantonio: Daily low-dose aspirin has been shown to decrease the risk for cancer in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, which is likely attributable to its ability to modestly decrease the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2), an enzyme which contributes importantly to the genesis and progression of adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are cancer of the glands, the most common type of breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma) is an adenocarcinoma, additionally many cancers of the lung, intestine, esophagus, colon are adenocarcinomas.

We show that an ample dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 fats—the type prominent in fatty fish—would oppose cox-2 activity.  Additionally, we cite numerous evidence that a higher intake of long-chain omega-3 fats has been found to reduce the risk for numerous types of cancer – especially when looking at trials that excluded fried or preserved fish (or fish high in omega-6), excluded trials with a high background intake of omega-6, and included trials where the “high” intake group – actually ate 2 servings of fish or more per week. Additionally, basic science as well as randomized data showing that long-chain omega-3s can reduce the number and size of colon polyps supports this argument.

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Fish Oil Found Not Effective in Atrial Fibrillation Prevention

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Anil Nigam MD MSc FRCPC Director, Research Program in Preventive Cardiology at ÉPIC Centre Montreal Heart Institute Associate Professor, Department of Medicine at Université de MontréalMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Anil Nigam MD MSc FRCPC
Director, Research Program in Preventive Cardiology at ÉPIC Centre
Montreal Heart Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine at Université de Montréal

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Nigam: The main finding is that high-dose fish oil rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce recurrence of atrial fibrillation in individuals with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation not receiving conventional anti-arrhythmic therapy.
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No Cardiovascular Benefit Found With Omega 3 Fatty Acids or Macular Xanthophylls Supplementation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Denise Bonds, MD, MPH
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr.Bonds: We found no cardiovascular benefit to supplementation of the diet with either omega-3 fatty acids or with the macular xanthophyll’s lutein and zeaxanthin.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: MI Risk in Diabetic, Non-Diabetic Patients with CAD

MedicalResearch.com Interview wit:
Elin Strand

Researcher, Department of Clinical Science
University of Bergen, Norway

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of this study?

Answer: The main findings in this prospective observational cohort study among patients with established coronary artery disease were that a very high intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a reduced risk of acute myocardial infarction in patients with diabetes, but with an increased risk of fatal acute myocardial infarction and with lower glycosylated hemoglobin in those without impaired glucose metabolism.

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