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Omega-3s & heart health: Fish and supplements may slash venous thromboembolism risk, says new study

By Stephen Daniells+

22-May-2014

Omega-3s & heart health: Fish and supplements may slash venous thromboembolism risk, says new study

A combination of fish and fish oil supplements may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism by almost 50%, according to a new study from Norway.

Consuming fish at least three times per week and using additional fish oil supplements reduced the risk of venous thromboembolism by 48%, compared to non-fish oil supplement users who consumed fish between 1 and 1.9 times per week, report researchers from the University of Tromso, the University Hospital of North Norway, and Lipomics (a division of Metabolon).

Writing in the Journal of Nutrition , the researchers noted that the potential mechanism behind the beneficial effects of omega-3s on venous thromboembolism is not fully understood, there is evidence in the literature to indicate that omega-3s may inhibit platelet aggregation, which is considered to play an “essential role in the formation of venous thrombosis”, they said.

Over four decades of science

The heart health benefits of fish oil, and the omega-3 fatty acids it contains, are well-documented, being first reported in the early 1970s by Dr Jorn Dyerberg and his co-workers in The Lancet and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

To date, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been linked to improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency of thrombosis, blood pressure and heart rate improvements, and improved vascular function.

The new study adds to this list of benefits to include reducing the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE).

The study’s findings were welcomed by Harry Rice, PhD, VP of regulatory & scientific affairs for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). “Venous thromboembolism affects an estimated 300,000 - 600,000 individuals in the U.S. each year and results in considerable morbidity and mortality,” he said. “Given that the present data provide evidence that higher omega-3 intakes are protective against VTE, why wouldn't you eat more fatty fish and add an omega-3 supplement to your daily regime?”

Study details

Led by Ida Hansen-Krone, the researchers analyzed data from 23,621 people aged between 25 and 97 participating in the Tromso population-based cohort.

Data collected over an average 16 years the researchers documented 536 cases of VTE. Crunching the numbers indicated that three or more servings of fish per week was associated with a 22% reduction in the risk of VTE, compared to between 1 and 1.9 servings per week.

Adding fish oil supplements to this dietary pattern increased the benefits, with a 48% lower risk reported, compared with people who consumed fish 1–1.9 times per wk and did not use the omega-3 supplements.

“The reported intake of fish servings and fish oil supplementation was validated by an expected inverse relation to serum concentration of triglycerides and dose-dependent relation to serum concentration of [omega-3 polunsaturated fatty acids],” they added.

Source: Journal of Nutrition
2014, Volume 144, Pages 861-867, doi: 10.3945/​jn.113.189548
“High Fish plus Fish Oil Intake Is Associated with Slightly Reduced Risk of Venous Thromboembolism: The Tromso Study”
Authors: I.J. Hansen-Krone, K.F. Enga, J.M. Sudduth-Klinger, et al. 

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