This research, conducted at the Center for Cancer Prevention and Detection, Republic of Korea, is published Online First in the in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD of the Harvard School of Public Health and JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH, chief of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) provide an invited commentary on the findings and caution, “Among the 14 randomized clinical trials that were included in the meta-analysis, most were very small short-term studies and were not designed to evaluate cardiovascular events as end points in the research.”
Manson is the principal investigator of an ongoing randomize trial, VITAL, which stands for: VITamin D and OmegA-3 Trial,, the largest randomized trial of moderate-to-high doses of vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids in the primary prevention of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, is currently enrolling men and women above age 50 and 55, respectively, and details are available at www.vitalstudy.org. No previous large-scale trials have been done in primary prevention.
In the Archives of Internal Medicine study, researchers analyzed data from 14 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials involving 20,485 patients (78.5 percent were men) with an average age of 63 years who had a history of heart disease. In the trials, participants received a daily dose of an omega-3 fatty acid supplement ranging from .4 to 4.8 grams per day and were followed for between one and 4.7 years.
Drs. Hu and Manson note in their commentary that to date there is no conclusive evidence to recommend fish oil supplementation for primary or secondary prevention of heart disease.
“Omega-3 supplementation cannot supersede an overall healthy diet and a diet high in fatty fish is recommended as it may not only provide heart benefits, but also replace unhealthy proteins such as red meat,” they said.