Fish oil study another supplement to throw back

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Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 12.10.12 PMFor those who follow the list of dietary supplements that, upon clinical scrutiny, turn out to be useless, this should be no surprise. But for millions of Americans it will probably be just that.

A large five-year trial examining the benefits of the supplement with regard to cardiovascular outcome came up with a very empty hook, effectively relegating omega-3 fish oil to the ever-growing supplement trash heap.

In today s New England Journal of Medicine, The Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group in Italy reports that there were virtually no benefits to study participants who took omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil (1 gram per day).

Specifically, the study s primary endpoints both admission to the hospital, and time until death from cardiovascular causes were the same in those who took the fish oil (6,244 people) and those who did not (6,269) within a median follow-up period of 5 years.

Secondary endpoints were likewise indistinguishable.

The only exception was a modest 18% reduction in the hospital admission for women during the study interval, but the investigators cautioned, the consistently null effect across the various end points and subgroups does not suggests alternative interpretations. The observed benefits in women and in reducing hospital admissions for heart failure must be considered conservatively.

Dr Eric Topol, Professor of Genomics at the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at the Scripps Clinic, and editor in chief of theheart.org, commented I have an awful lot of patients that come to me on fish oil, and I implore them to stop taking it. The present study, with its efficacious dose, arms physicians with data to tell patients who have not had an MI and who don t have heart failure that n-3 fatty acid supplementation with fish oil is not effective.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom is not in the least bit surprised. He comments, The track record of dietary supplements that actually undergo clinical evaluation is dismal. Unfortunately, when one fails there is inevitably something else useless to take its place. Medical Whack a Mole.