Still fishing for answers on heart health benefits of fish oil

    QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadians are consuming fish oil to
protect their heart health, but they may be swimming in uncharted waters
according to a new study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress
    The Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the
Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
    The prevention of cardiac arrhythmias has been a major selling point for
taking fish oil supplements, according to Dr. Hernando Leon of Edmonton. But
his study shows that fish oil has no effect on cardiac arrhythmias.
    Dr. Leon and his team noted that this does not mean that there are no
heart health benefits to fish oil. "The association between fish oil
supplementation and a significant reduction in overall cardiac death remains,"
says Dr. Lesn.
    "There's no debate that to some degree we are what we eat. There are
benefits to Omega-3 fatty acids, which is why the Heart and Stroke Foundation
recommends that Canadians consume two to three servings of fish per week,"
notes Dr. Beth Abramson, spokesperson for the Foundation. "This study reminds
us of the importance of eating a balanced diet that includes healthy fats. But
the jury may still be out on the specific ways these fats, in this case in the
form of supplements, influence certain heart conditions."
    Dr. Leon's study was based on data from over 30,000 patients. There were
major hurdles to be overcome in obtaining accurate research data.
    That's because fish oils supplements are available in a wide range of
doses. This has led to several contradictory studies. Dr. Leon and his team
created a systematic overview of 15 databases which had evaluated the cardiac
effects of fish oil supplements.
    The problem of differing doses was dealt with by taking trials that used
two common fish oils and dividing them into three groups according to dosage.
    The fish oils studied were forms of Omega-3: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). There was a significant reduction in cardiac
deaths and all-cause mortality with 577-1032 mg/d DHA and 0-1105 mg/d EPA.
    "But the range of dosages and responses by participants and the many
different formulations of fish oils made this difficult to assess," says
Dr. Leon.
    "What we can definitely say is that, according to our review, fish oil
produces no effects on arrhythmias," he says.
    Dr. Abramson notes, "The Heart and Stroke Foundation reminds Canadians to
speak to their doctor or pharmacist about medications or supplements they are
taking, whether prescribed or over the counter."

    Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study
authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation policy or position. The
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada makes no representation or warranty as
to their accuracy or reliability.

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (, a
volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke
and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its
application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

For further information:

For further information: or interviews: CCC 2007 MEDIA OFFICE, (418)
649-5215 (Oct 21-24); Marie-Christine Garon, Massy-Forget Public Relations,
(514) 842-2455 ext. 23,; Congress information and media
registration at; After October 24, 2007: Jane-Diane
Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (613) 569-4361 ext 273,

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