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Post By NU_nutrition_TS
Omega-3: Danger and misinformation?
OMEGA 3….Danger and Misinformation
Fish oil won't stop heart disease
Surprisingly, it was known back in 1979 that diet influenced EFA composition of the cell membrane; this finding was published in Cancer Research (1979; 39:1726-32).43 In 1990, a masterpiece of research conducted by William E. Lands found that the amount of critical parent omega-6 in the tissues was dependent on diet (Lipids 1990; 25(9):505-16).44To gain the best in scientific research, in 2002 I attended the world's 1st Essential Fatty Acids and Human Nutrition and Health International Conference in Shanghai, China. There I discovered a shocking and unexpected discovery that fish oil lowers immunity. I nearly fell out of my chair! Overdosing on fish oil supplements can significantly decrease the effectiveness of your immune system, increasing your risk of contracting cancer. The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) June 2000 Congress in Tsukuba, Japan,45 had reported this startling fact, as noted earlier.And don't think that fish oil prevents heart disease. It doesn't. Cardiovascular Research (2002; 54:183-190) reported on a study where both the fish oil group and the control group showed close to equal atherosclerotic progression (arteries getting more clogged in spite of taking fish oil supplements). Nor did fish oil stop thickening of the artery. On the contrary, the artery wall got thicker (worsened) with fish oil ingestion! A mere 1.65 grams per day of fish oil supplement was taken-a great enough dose to cause adverse immunity and excessive internal bleeding, too.46 These results showing the failure of fish oil were published in 2002. Did this stop "experts" in the nutritional and medical fields and even in our governments from declaring how great fish oil supplements are? No! Harvard Medical School was involved in a study, published in 1995, titled "Controlled Trial of Fish Oil for Regression of Human Coronary Atherosclerosis" (Am Coll Cardiol 1995; 25(7):1492-8).47 The daily dose was six grams of fish oil versus six grams of olive oil in the control group. Their conclusion? "Fish oil treatment for two years does not promote major favorable changes in the diameter of atherosclerotic coronary arteries" (author's emphasis). This means that arterial clogging was not decreased with the fish oil supplements.
Omega-6 derivative AA prevents blood clotting
Dr Warburg understood that slow blood speed allowed cancer to metastasise. Later, other researchers showed that if you can keep a localised cancer from metastasising, your risk of dying from cancer decreases by an amazing tenfold! Even though you may have cancer, you won't die from it. Blood speed and viscosity have a connection to the spread of cancer. This is a surprising, seldom-mentioned fact that was pointed out by world-renowned molecular biologist Robert Weinberg.49 What causes metastasis? Blood clots, and this is known, too.50 What prevents blood from "sticking together" and is also Nature's natural blood-thinner that prevents blood clots? No, it's not omega-3, like you are constantly told. ***Parent omega-6 is much more powerful***. Arachidonic acid (AA) is a critical omega-6 derivative and major biochemical component which occurs in virtually every cell we have. It is the building block of the most potent anti-aggregatory ("helps blood thinning") agent known, termed prostacyclin. AA also inhibits platelet adhesion, making it a natural "blood thinner". AA even helps solve vascular problems as a response to injury.51 Heart attack victims often have depleted EFA levels, especially the EFA derivatives AA from parent omega-6 and EPA from parent omega-3.56 We need some parent omega-3 because EPA is one of its important derivatives. ***The problem is that fish oil supplements overdose us with far too much. ***
What's really clogging the arteries
Contrary to what we have heard for decades, it is not the saturated fat that clogs the arteries and impedes blood flow: it's the adulterated parent omega-6. A groundbreaking Lancet article (1994; 344:1195-96) reported investigating the components of arterial plaques. Felton et al. measured the individual components, and in an aortic artery clog they found over 10 different compounds but no saturated fat.57 There was some cholesterol in the clog. This is explained by the fact that cholesterol acts as a protective healer for arterial cuts and bruises, just like a scab forms over external cuts. What is the predominant component of a clog? You probably guessed it: the adulterated omega-6 polyunsaturated oils-those that start out containing properly functioning EFAs but get ruined during commercial food processing. Many similar analyses of arterial clogs showing the same result have been carried out and published in the medical journals, but it would seem that few physicians have seen them.58 The average person has little, if any, chance of ever discovering the truth. So, it is not cholesterol itself that clogs the arteries. If you have a deficiency of EFAs, cholesterol acts as a "poison delivery system". EFAs are cholesterol's major component. As the medical textbook Molecular Biology of the Cell makes clear (p. 481), cholesterol is necessary for the structural integrity of the lipid bi-layer, the matrix in each of our 100 trillion cell membranes. JAMA (1994; 272:1335-40) published an article stating that cholesterol-lowering drugs do not work significantly to prevent heart disease. The reason? They can't lower the amount of defective parent omega-6 enough. As stated in Current Atherosclerosis Reports (2004; 6:477-84), this is why cholesterol drugs can't do the job:59 "LDL contains up to 80% lipids [fats and oils], including polyunsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol, mainly esters. Linoleic acid (LA), one of the most abundant fatty acids in LDLÉ" With this information, we see that it is what the cholesterol is transporting-the adulterated EFAs-that is the problem. An article in Human Nutrition: Clinical Nutrition (1984; 38C:245-260) further verifies that it is parent omega-6 that makes up most of the fatty acids in LDL and HDL cholesterol.60 Don't let anyone ever tell you that natural fats are "bad". One hundred trillion cells need lots of EFA-containing natural fats; in particular, lots of parent omega-6.If just a little of this parent omega-6 is defective, reducing its ability to absorb oxygen and perform other cellular functions, it acts as a direct cause of cancer as well as heart disease
The Fallacy of Fish Oil
The benefits of fish oil supplementation have been grossly overstated
Most of the studies showing fish oil benefits are short-term, lasting less than one year
The only fish oil study lasting more than four years showed an increase in heart disease and sudden death
Fish oil is highly unstable and vulnerable to oxidative damage
There’s no evidence that healthy people benefit from fish oil supplementation
Taking several grams of fish oil per day may be hazardous to your health
A new study was recently published showing that 3g/d of fish oil in patients with metabolic syndrome increased LDL levels and insulin resistance. --- But this study isn’t alone in highlighting the potential risks of high-dose fish oil supplementation. Chris Masterjohn’s latest article on essential fatty acids, Precious yet Perilous, makes a compelling argument that fish oil supplementation – especially over the long-term – is not only not beneficial, but may be harmful.--This may come as a surprise to you, with all of the current media hoopla about the benefits of fish oil supplementation. Yet the vast majority of the studies done that have shown a benefit have been short-term, lasting less than one year. The only trial lasting more than four years, the DART 2 trial, showed that fish oil capsules actually increase the risk of heart disease and sudden death. ---A 2004 Cochrane meta-analysis of trials lasting longer than six months suggests that the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil have been dramatically over-stated. They analyzed 79 trials overall, and pooled data from 48 trials that met their criteria. The only effect that could be distinguished from chance was a reduced risk of heart failure. Fish oil provided no reduction in total or cardiovascular mortality.
Too much fish oil can wreak havoc in your body---Omega-3 fatty acids are highly vulnerable to oxidative damage. When fat particles oxidize, they break down into smaller compounds, like malondialdehyde (MDA), that are dangerous because they damage proteins, DNA, and other important cellular structures.---A study by Mata et al demonstrated that oxidative damage increases as intake of omega-3 fat increases. The results of this study were summarized in the Perfect Health Diet, by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet:
Notice the clear increase in TBARS (a measure of oxidative damage of the LDL particle) with omega-3 fat. It’s important to note that this was only a 5-week trial. If it had gone on for longer than that, it’s likely the oxidative damage caused by omega-3 fats would have been even worse. This isn’t surprising if you understand the chemical composition of fats. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are highly vulnerable to oxidative damage because they’re the only fatty acids that have two or more double bonds, and it’s the carbon that lies between the double bonds that is vulnerable to oxidation (as shown in the figure below):
Another thing worth noting, if you haven’t already, is that intake of saturated and monounsaturated fats does not increase oxidative damage by a significant amount. This is illustrated in both the table and the diagram above: saturated fats have no double bonds, which means they are well protected against oxidation. MUFA is slightly more vulnerable, since it does have one double bond, but not nearly as much as PUFA which has several double-bonds. ---A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial likewise showed that 6 grams per day of fish oil increased lipid peroxides and MDA in healthy men, regardless of whether they were supplemented with 900 IU of vitamin E. And consumption of fresh, non-oxidized DHA and EPA has been shown to increase markers of oxidative stress in rats.
Fish oil not as beneficial as commonly believed---To be fair, at least one review suggests that fish oil supplementation is beneficial in the short and even intermediate term. A recent meta-analysis of 11 trials lasting more than one year found that fish oil reduced the relative risk of cardiovascular death by 13 percent and the relative risk of death from any cause by 8 percent.----But the effect seen in this review was mostly due to the GISSI and DART-1 trials. They found that fish oil may prevent arrhythmia in patients with chronic heart failure and patients who have recently survived a heart attack. ----However, there is no evidence that people other than those with arrhythmia and chronic heart failure benefit from taking fish oil or that doses higher than one gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day provide any benefit over smaller doses. And then there’s the rather disturbing result of the DART-2 trial, the only fish oil study lasting more than four years, showing an increase in heart disease and sudden death.---It’s logical to assume the effects of oxidative damage would take a while to manifest, and would increase as time goes on. That’s likely the reason we see some benefit in short- and intermediate-term studies (as n-3 displace n-6 in the tissues), but a declining and even opposite effect in the longer-term DART-2 trial (as increased total PUFA intake causes more oxidative damage).---
The danger of reductionist thinking in nutritional research---The current fish oil craze highlights the danger of isolated nutrient studies, which unfortunately is the focus of nutritional research today. Kuipers et al. eloquently described the risks of this approach in a recent paper: --The fish oil fatty acids EPA and DHA (and their derivatives), vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) and vitamin A (retinoic acid) are examples of nutrients that act in concert, while each of these has multiple actions(7,8). ---Consequently, the criteria for establishing optimum nutrient intakes via randomised controlled trials (RCT) with single nutrients at a given dose and with a single end point have serious limitations. They are usually based upon poorly researched dose–response relationships, and typically ignore many possible nutrient interactions and metabolic interrelationships. ---For instance, the adequate intake of linoleic acid (LA) to prevent LA deficiency depends on the concurrent intakes of α-linolenic acid (ALA), γ-LA and arachidonic acid (AA). Consequently, the nutritional balance on which our genome evolved is virtually impossible to determine using the reigning paradigm of ‘evidence-based medicine’ with RCT. --Interest in fish oil supplementation started with observations that the Inuit had almost no heart disease. It was assumed their high intake of marine oils produced this benefit. While this may be true, at least in part, what was overlooked is that the Inuit don’t consume marine oils in isolation. They eat them as part of a whole-food diet that also includes other nutrients which may help prevent the oxidative damage that otherwise occurs with such a high intake of fragile, n-3 PUFA.----It’s also important to note that there are many other traditional peoples, such as the Masai, the Tokelau, and the Kitavans, that are virtually free of heart disease but do not consume high amounts of marine oils. What these diets all share in common is not a large intake of omega-3 fats, but instead a complete absence of modern, refined foods.
Eat fish, not fish oil – cod liver oil excepted---That is why the best approach is to dramatically reduce intake of omega-6 fat, found in industrial seed oils and processed and refined foods, and then eat a nutrient-dense, whole-foods based diet that includes fatty fish, shellfish and organ meats[U1]. This mimics our ancestral diet and is the safest and most sane approach to meeting our omega-3 needs – which as Chris Masterjohn points out, are much lower than commonly assumed. --So I still recommend eating fatty fish a couple times per week. What I don’t endorse is taking several grams per day of fish oil, especially for an extended period of time. Unfortunately this advice is becoming more and more common in the nutrition world.--More is not always better, despite our tendency to believe it is
Omega-3 contamination study is misleading, says industry
A new study on pollutant levels in fish oil supplements has been criticized by industry as being misleading and sensationalist. --Published this month in the Journal of Food Science, the study investigated levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in 30 fish oil supplements found on the Canadian market. POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine insecticide (OC) compounds, have been linked to immunotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Differing levels of these contaminants have been detected in fish products from around the world. The current study, entitled Persistent Organic Pollutants in Fish Oil Supplements on the Canadian Market: Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Organochlorine Insecticides, examined fish oil supplements purchased in Vancouver, Canada, between 2005 and 2007.
Contamination levels --PCBs and OC insecticides were detected in all supplement samples collected. However, most of these levels did not surpass acceptable intake levels, prompting the omega-3 industry to criticize it as “misleading”. According to Ocean Nutrition Canada, a leading manufacturer of omega-3 fish oil ingredients used in foods and supplements, the paper has “a sensational headline that does not reflect the study’s findings and conclusions”. This, said the firm, could generate confusion in the way the information is communicated to the public. The researchers – from Health Canada, Bureau of Chemical Safety and Food Directorate – tested both single-species oil supplements (such as salmon, seal or shark), as well as mixed oil products (for example salmon, anchovy, sardine and mackerel). Their findings revealed PCB levels ranging between 0.711 ng/g (equivalent to 0.711 ppb) in a mixed oil product and 10,400 ng/g (10,400 ppb) in a shark oil product. In Canada, the acceptable limit of PCBs is 2,000 ppb, placing the shark oil product far beyond the limit. The second highest level of PCBs was 519 ng/g, found in seal oil. “With the exception of the menhaden, seal, and shark oil supplements, all median ΣPCB concentrations were below 100ng/g,” notes the study. OC levels in oil supplement samples also varied significantly. However, none of the oils exceeded the acceptable limit of DDT – an OC insecticide – which is 5,000 ppb. The maximum concentration of most OC insecticides were found in the seal oil analyzed. The supplements containing seal, shark, and salmon oils had elevated levels of OC compounds relative to those containing other fish and vegetable oils. Mixed oils (anchovy, mackerel and sardine) had the lowest level of DDT at 0.189 to 15.2 ppb. “The mixed fish oils tested in the present study had lower PCB and OC insecticide levels than other oil types. Although a limited number of supplements were analyzed in this study, variable concentrations of PCBs and OCs were observed corresponding to oil type,” the researchers concluded.
Ocean Nutrition highlighted that seal oil and shark oil – which were found to have the highest contaminant levels – are not an accurate representation of omega-3 oils. “Fish oil primarily is sourced from the Peruvian Anchovy fishery. These fish are low on the food chain and are vegetarians, primarily consuming algae. This means they are very pure from contaminants as a starting source, compared to species such as seals and shark, which are high on the food chain and bi accumulate contaminants,” the company told NutraIngredients-USA.com. The Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED), an omega-3 trade association, also said that seal and shark oils are “obscure products that are actually difficult to find”. The group’s executive director Adam Ismail noted that these products are outside the scope of the GOED voluntary monograph, which sets quality standards for fish oils. “The other thing the study highlights is that in many instances omega-3 supplements can be a safer source of EPA and DHA than actual fish consumption, with a single serving of salmon containing more than 100 times the PCBs than the standard fish oil supplements used in the study, and 30 times more than the limits in the monograph,” he said.
Omega-3 doesn’t help heart attack patients, say German researchers
University of Heidelberg researchers in Germany have found heart attack patients don’t benefit from omega-3 supplementation in a randomised study involving about 4000 post-heart attack patients. --Their paper, presented at the 58th conference of the American College of Cardiology, found fish oil omega-3 supplements had no more benefit for patients already taking pharmaceuticals for heart conditions, than placebo. ---Despite the apparently negative results, the researchers did not condemn fish oil supplementation, noting the study did not have as an aim, whether fish oil can prevent the onset of heart disease in the first place. ---The American Heart Association recommends that coronary heart disease patients take a gram of omega-3s per day, and recommends 2 to 4 grams per day to patients needing to lower triglyceride levels. --The high-dose omega-3, prescription form used in the trial is sold as Omacor and Lovaza in the US and Zodin in Europe.
Broadly agree with most of it - and have said as much many times on the forum.
P.S. Could you add an attribution link - assuming the site does not advertise competing products?
Last edited by NU_nutrition_TS; 26-02-2012 at 02:06 PM.
hi all. I appreciate this is the advanced thread and i've attempted to take in the info above but a lot of it is over my head to be honest.
I use omega 3 oil, generally have 2 tsp a day (sometmes 3 depending on the rest of my diet) from the looks of this that would be having a negative affect in the long run?
I have noticed benefits from supplementing omega 3 with joints and especially my hands so would be opposed to stopping outright. Is there a better alternative like MCT oil? or should i switch to cod liver oil?
I don't think the intention of the OP was to persuade people to stop taking some form of omega-3 entirely or to suggest omega-3 has no health benefits at all - this is plainly counter to everything we know, so far, about essential fatty acids and normal biological functioning.
What was at issue, I believe, was whether the 'fad' for high consumption of omega-3 supplements was necessary and particularly healthful and, in extremis, whether it could actually be counter-productive to health, even causing illness.
In my view, the best sources of essential fatty acids are natural whole foods. In the case of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, this would be oily fish, pastured meats and eggs. However, with some husbandry techniques, the diet of these animals can often leave them a little short in the essential fatty acids (or the ratio askew) or people often do not eat - for various reasons, such as taste, religion, moral and ethical considerations - these particular foods. It is at this point that some form of supplementation is advisable - even necessary.
The important point is that these essential fatty acids are only needed in very small amounts on a daily basis. If you are supplementing as well as getting them from foods, then the amount of supplementation need only be tiny. I think, in the drive to market essential fats as supplements, great liberties have been taken with the scientific evidence: just because an essential nutrient is required to prevent certain conditions and diseases, this has been interpolated to mean that intakes can actually prevent a host of associated conditions and the more you take the better. This is just not justified by the available data - hence the references to studies showing no long-term benefits to omega-3 supplementation in various diseases.
This is where the 'danger and misinformation' lies!
As with many things - and a mantra I am fond of repeating here - it is not how much you need to take of something to achieve optimum results but how little! Just because 1g per day of something proves beneficial, it does not mean that double and triple the dose will have double and triple the beneficial effect; sometimes it can work the opposite way.
If you can get your daily allowance through fresh, whole foods (as detailed above), so much the better. If you need to supplement, by all means do so with a good quality product - just don't overdo it thinking you are improving on evolutionary perfection (or optimisation). If you are feeling the benefits on your current dosage but worry you may be overdoing it, just decrease the daily dosage on a gradual basis until you observe a reduction in benefit. You may find the level of benefit you currently experience may be achievable on a lower dosage. Certainly don't stop it altogether if this is your only source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. BTW, MCT oil does not contain any essential omega-3 fats as far as I am aware.
Last edited by NU_nutrition_TS; 28-02-2012 at 02:15 PM.
I feel your body will tell you when you are getting too much. My body as my wifes starts to smell when we have had too much Omega3. Take a day off, and we are back to normal, slowly using this we have adjusted what we take. The same is true for spices and herbs.....you just need to smell yourself :-)
Yet again, too much of anything, whether good or BAD (two wrongs don't make a right! ), will be detrimental, or at least ineffective.
In older adults? How much older? older than me? older than a new born?
to hit those EPA/DHA amounts you would need 12.5ml for EPA and 15ml for DHA (if using MP Omega 3 fish oil) so we're looking at 3 tsp a day as a 'good' amount to have. Assuming that you don't get any omega 3 from anywhere else.
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