Fish oil supplements do not prevent cardiovascular disease or heart attack, even in people who are at high risk. That is the conclusion of an extensive analysis published in the cardiology journal JAMA, which found no evidence to support the use of these supplements for heart health.
These results “should not surprise us,” says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., the chief medical consultant for Consumer Reports. “There is a lot of hype surrounding these supplements, but there is not much evidence to support the claims,” he added.
About 78,000 fish oil supplements consumers were studied
More than 20% of Americans take fish oil supplements, according to a survey conducted in 2015 by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
The new study gathered data from 10 clinical trials that included a total of about 78,000 people who took fish oil supplements for an average of 4.5 years.
The study’s authors did not find any connection between taking the supplements and decreasing cardiovascular diseases risks.
“Studies that have shown dramatic results [from fish oil supplements] often had small samples or used methods that can lead to bias or favoritism,” says Clarke, the study’s author.
The new analysis confirmed a report released by the American Heart Association
As Consumer Reports has documented before, fish oil supplements, like any other supplement, may contain unknown adulterants. If you have considered taking a supplement anyway, be sure to check with your doctor first, according to the researchers involved in the new study.
But fatty fish, such as salmon, is a healthy choice and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, along with lean protein and other nutrients, experts say. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of 3 and a half ounces of fish per week.
The new findings, however, confirm a report from the last year released by the American Heart Association (AHA), which also found no connection between fish oil supplements and the prevention of heart disease.
However, the American Heart Association report did find that among people who have already suffered a heart attack or heart failure, fish oil supplements have been linked to a slight decrease in the risk of dying from causes related to heart diseases.