Given that omega-3 fatty acids are now being used to fortify a VAST amount of processed foods and given that excessive fish oil supplementation is being recommended by so many health care providers, it seems most appropriate to feature this recently published review article from the prestigious peer-reviewed Journal of Lipids.
“Why Fish Oil Fails: A comprehensive 21st Century Lipids-Based Physiologic Analysis” should be of major concern to every reader of this Friday Pearl.
“Since many medical professionals are under the wrong impression that fish oil incontrovertibly works, it is important to make clear there are numerous recent and not so recent fish oil failures occurring across all clinical areas. There are more (underpublicized) failures than (supposed) successes.”
The review points out that the medical community suffered three significant fish oil setbacks in 2013.
1. “Claims that fish oil’s EPA/DHA would stop the progression of heart disease were crushed when the Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group (Italy) released a conclusive negative finding regarding fish oil for those patients with high risk factors but no previous myocardial infarction. Fish oil failed in all measures of CVD prevention—both primary and secondary.
- “This study was so conclusive that Eric Topol, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Medscape and Medscape’s Heartwire for cardiologists, issued a new directive to patients to stop taking fish oil, that is, long-chain EFA metabolites of EPA/DHA.
2. “Another major 2013 setback occurred when fish oil’s DHA was shown to significantly increase prostate cancer in men, in particular, high-grade prostate cancer, in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) analysis, which was confirmed by prior post-2007 findings of increased prostate cancer risk among men with high blood concentrations of long-chain metabolites of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil studies.
- “The authors warned, “The consistency of these findings suggests that these fatty acids are involved in prostate tumorigenesis. Recommendations to excessively increase marine oil’s EPA/DHA intake should consider its potential risks.”
3. “Another monumental failure occurred in 2013 when fish oil’s EPA/DHA failed to slow progression of macular degeneration in the AREDS2 study.
- “In 2010, fish oil’s EPA/DHA failed to help Alzheimer’s victims, even those with low DHA levels.”
These are by no means isolated failures. The promise of fish oil magic has failed time and time again in long-term clinical trials.
This review suggests that pre-2007 studies were poorly conducted and inconsistent with the science.
“In a 2012 meta-analysis regarding cardiovascular disease, reviewing 1,007 articles, only 14 studies met the criteria of randomization, double blindness, and placebo control. In researchers’ haste to offer patients a new, effective treatment, fish oil “successes” were highlighted and its failures downplayed. However, post-2007 studies of fish oil show significant accumulated failure.”
This review also suggests that excessive fish oil impairs normal cellular physiology, so pathophysiologic disorders are expected.
“Theoretically and in clinical experiments fish oil supplements in excessive amounts, cause changes in membrane properties that impair oxygen transmission into and through the cell.
“EPA/DHA cannot be beta-oxidized away and is physiologically incorporated into all cell membranes, detrimentally altering phospholipids of cell and mitochondrial membranes.”
This review reports that long-chain omega-3s from fish oil are highly sensitive to temperature and have the weakest bond-energies of the fatty acid chain.
This makes them enormously susceptible to attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated elsewhere in the body. Fish oil is proving to be far more susceptible to destructive peroxidative damage than short-chain omega-6 oils, so it seems the long-chain omega-3 / omega-6 ratios currently being recommended need careful reconsideration, sooner rather than later.
Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, and the Biosyntrx staff.
PEARL: Nutritional supplement safety issues are always uppermost in the minds of the Biosyntrx science team. We have been questioning the safety of excessive fish oil supplementation for more than six years in our Friday Pearl columns.
We included a link to this important fish oil safety review in its entirety for our readers. The full review article includes 91 references and they are hyperlinked. All references and a link to a surgical instrument announcement from our friends at Crestpoint Management can be found here.
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