Study under review: Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: A Randomized Clinical Trial
The medium-term effect of fish oil is well established for lowering blood triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are also known to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, in recent years, there’s been controversy about whether fish oil is effective in preventing cardiovascular disease more generally. One recent meta-analysis found no effect on cardiovascular disease itself, but (as shown in Figure 1) did find a decreased risk of death from cardiac causes in people with coronary heart disease who take fish oil.
Fish oil contains both EPA and DHA, raising the question of whether one may be more effective at promoting cardiovascular health. In Study Deep Dives #21, Volume 1, “Fish oil showdown: anti-inflammatory effects of EPA vs. DHA” explored a study that compared the effects of EPA and DHA on inflammatory biomarkers and blood lipids in adults with abdominal obesity and low-grade inflammation. This research was an important contribution to the field, as no prior work has directly compared EPA and DHA. This is despite a growing body of evidence suggesting each has the potential to reduce inflammation and despite a meta-analysis of 68 randomized controlled trials and 4,601 individuals showing both to have a significant impact on several inflammatory biomarkers.
Reference: Wen et al. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 May.Unfortunately, the study had two major limitations. First, it was conducted exclusively in men and women with abdominal obesity and low-grade inflammation, precluding generalizations to a healthy population. Second, the EPA and DHA doses were set at 2.7 grams per day, which is far greater than what is provided by common over-the-counter fish oil supplements that many individuals use for preventive therapy. These are commonly one-gram fish oil pills providing 200-300 milligrams of EPA and DHA. The current study sought to compare the effects of EPA and DHA on numerous cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood lipids and inflammatory biomarkers, with doses frequently used in the real world by healthy adults.
The effects of low-dose EPA and DHA on cardiovascular disease risk factors such as blood lipids and inflammatory biomarkers in healthy adults is not well defined. The current study sought to pit real-world dosing of EPA against DHA to examine which may have a greater impact on cardiovascular disease risk factors in a healthy population.
Other Articles in Issue #23 (September 2016)
Gut bugs and arthritis
Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”, which might be close to the truth. This research looked at a type of gut bacteria that may help protect against rheumatoid arthritis
HMB + ATP = huge muscles?
HMB (short for β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate) has shown promise in limited trials looking at its free acid form. Could combining this form with ATP be a recipe for accelerated muscle gain?
A review of carnitine and weight loss
The amino acid l-carnitine has been studied for weight loss, with confusingly mixed results. Researchers pooled previous studies together in this meta-analysis to get a clearer picture.
Interview: Pablo Sanchez-Soria, PhD
Toxins: a term that's incredibly overused by people who typically don't understand the concepts very well. Dr. Sanchez-Soria is a toxicologist who deals with toxins and disease on a daily basis. Dr. Pablo Sanchez-Soria is a Toxicologist at the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, L.L.C. (CTEH®). Dr. Sanchez-Soria has experience in the fields of human and environmental toxicology, as well as molecular and systems toxicology with an emphasis in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Kids will be kids … even if they skip breakfast?
Kids always get bugged by their parents to eat breakfast, so that they can do well in school. But does breakfast consumption actually impact cognition in this population?
Have the fructose alarm bells rang too soon?
Fructose is both highly controversial and highly researched. Yet until this recent trial, it hadn’t been compared to other sugars for inflammation and intestinal impacts.
All the data on resveratrol for cardiovascular health
With 21 existing randomized trials looking at resveratrol’s effect on cardiovascular health markers, this meta-analysis was needed to summarize the data and get a sense of how much, if any, it may help.