Regular intake of fish oil-based supplements may be linked to a lower risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, according to a press release accompanying a new study published in The BMJ.
Fish oil has become a popular dietary supplement in many countries due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, substances that can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
To confirm this association, a team of researchers from China and the United States used a database of subjects from the United Kingdom, one of the countries where fish oil supplements are quite widespread.
The database counted more than half a million people, men and women aged 40 to 69 years, without cardiovascular disease or cancer. The follow-up lasted from 2006 to 2010. The researchers also used hospital records to consider possible hospitalizations or deaths.
Almost a third of the subjects then reported taking fish oil supplements regularly, at least at the beginning of the follow-up.
The researchers found that a regular intake of fish oil supplements could be associated with a 13% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, and a 7% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
The association between the use of fish oil and cardiovascular disease was higher in people with hypertension. The results remained unchanged even after analyzing various risk factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, age, any medications used and use of other supplements.
The results can be explained, according to the researchers, in the fact that omega-3 fatty acid supplements show beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol level and heart rate, things that naturally have a protective effect against the onset of cardiovascular disease.
As with any observational study, it is not possible to establish a direct cause, but the researchers themselves believe that a habitual use of fish oil may be associated with a lower risk of mortality for all causes and a lower risk of contracting cardiovascular disease.