The meta-analysis on omega-3s in the Journal of the American Medical Association is misleading and its findings are not warranted, according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED).
"Given the flawed design of this meta-analysis, bypassing the advice of the American Heart Association or the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans by stating that omega-3s are not cardioprotective could be harmful to public health," said Adam Ismail, GOED executive director. “GOED disputes the findings and urges consumers to continue taking omega-3 products if they are concerned about their heart.”
This meta-analysis looked at people who have already suffered heart attacks or strokes rather than the general healthy population, and like some other recent studies, failed to account for the effect of cardiovascular disease medications consumed by subjects in the studies analyzed.
Harry B. Rice, PhD, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for GOED, commented, "Consider that cardiac patients today are prescribed multiple cardio drugs (such as cardiac glycosides, antiarrhythmics, antihypertensives, hypolipidemics, antianginals, anticoagulants, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics and/or vasodilators). There is a significant challenge in trying to determine if omega-3s can reduce cardiovascular disease risks if you are already giving patients a handful of other drugs that contribute to achieving that objective."
"We know from the studies that have shown a benefit that future research in this area should only analyze studies that do not include confounding medications, are longer than two years in duration, and use dosages greater than 1 to 2 grams of omega-3s per day," Rice said. "Very few of the studies included in this meta-analysis met these criteria."
GOED believes it is important for doctors and consumers to understand that the totality of the scientific evidence justifies the use of omega-3s for both people with diagnosed cardiovascular disease and those trying to prevent cardiovascular disease, said Ismail.
Researchers from Harvard University have estimated that 84,000 deaths a year could be prevented by adequate omega-3 consumption (goo.gl/fEakx) and governments and scientific groups around the world have established minimum recommended intakes based on this evidence (goo.gl/pP9uZ).