"Fish Oil Capsules" by Oddman47 / Public Domain

The False Promise of Fish Oil Supplements

Aug 29, 2019

By R. Preston Mason

Every 38 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from cardiovascular disease. Even more worrisome: deaths from cardiovascular disease have been rising dramatically since 2011 following years of decline. Strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events cause great suffering and are an enormous health care burden.

These statistics are particularly troubling because each month, approximately 19 million people in the U.S. take fish oil supplements, many in the hopes of preventing heart disease—despite the absence of reliable evidence that such supplements (also called omega-3 fatty acid supplements) prevent cardiovascular disease and its serious consequences. To the contrary, all studies of fish oil supplements conducted to date have failed to show any significant clinical benefits beyond those of standard-of-care therapy.

Consumers have been told so many times that dietary fish oil supplements promote heart health that it seems to be accepted as factual. But this conventional thinking is not supported by the science. After decades of promises that fish oil “may work,” the lack of demonstrated benefit leads me to conclude that consumers are wasting their money on supplements in an effort to reduce cardiovascular risk.

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