Omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of much research and associated with a number of health benefits, and now one of them has been questioned in a new study. Results of a meta-analysis suggest there is insufficient evidence that omega-3 supplements are effective in reducing the risk of developing heart disease among people with a history of cardiovascular disease.
To arrive at this conclusion, researchers at the Center for Cancer Prevention and Detection in the Republic of Korea evaluated 14 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials conducted between June 1995 and November 2010. A total of 20,485 individuals with a history of heart disease participated in the trials.
After reviewing the daily doses of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) consumed by the participants and other factors, the investigators concluded omega-3 supplements provided no beneficial effect against cardiovascular events, such as sudden cardiac death, myocardial infarction (heart attack), angina, congestive heart failure, transient ischemic attack, stroke, and all causes of death.
It is important to remember, however, that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to provide a variety of other health benefits. The ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation, for example, can prove helpful for managing prostatitis and BPH, while studies have indicated that men who consume fish rich in EPA and DHA have a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Kwak SM et al. Efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplements (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine 2012 May 14; 17(9): 686-94