A large review of clinical trials has found that omega-3 supplements, also known as fish oil pills, do not provide any benefit in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Cochrane review examined 79 trials and more than 110,000 participants. Results found that increasing intake of EPA and DHA, the 2 main types of omega-3 fatty acids, made little or no difference in reducing cardiovascular death or events, stroke or other heart irregularities. Omega-3 fatty acids, however, did tend to reduce triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, and increase HDL, better known as “good cholesterol.”
There was also low-quality evidence that ALA, a type of omega-3 acid found in plants, may slightly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease events, death from chronic heart disease and irregular heartbeats.
Last year, the American Heart Association reported that fish oil supplements may be appropriate to prevent death in those who have had a heart attack, while acknowledging a lack of evidence for cardiovascular benefits in the general population.
A meta-analysis involving 10 trials published in JAMA Cardiology in March also found no evidence that omega-3 supplements were effective in cutting cardiovascular risks.
Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.