Fish Oil Benefits Brought into Question

fish oilAmericans spend about $1.2 billion annually for fish oil pills and related supplements, even though research indicates that it provides no evidence of a health benefit.

The benefits of using fish oil supplements is widely discussed in the health industry. The National Institutes of Health seems to be conflicted on its own website. One article on the website endorses taking fish oil supplements, saying they are likely effective for heart disease, because they contain the ‘‘beneficial’’ fatty acids known as omega-3, while another suggests that, in fact, the fish oil pills seem useless: ‘‘Omega-3s in supplement form have not been shown to protect against heart disease.’’

‘Unfortunately, it’s a common situation,’’ said John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford University who has critiqued the methods and findings in nutritional research.”

So who is the public to believe?

The American Heart Association recommends that some people with heart disease ‘‘may want to talk to their doctor about [omega-3] supplements.’’ But when the association was asked for an expert to explain the recommendation, that expert, former AHA president Robert Eckel, said that the recommendation needs to be revised.

‘‘AHA guideline committees are always reviewing guidelines and assessing whether updates are needed,’’ an AHA spokesperson said.

  • According to WebMD, findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce triglycerides
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
  • Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
  • Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease

There seems to be some disagreement

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