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25th February 2007 by Arrow Durfee Posted in Uncategorized

These studies were collected up by Chuck. Thanks for your good work, Chuck.

Importance of Omega Three Fats in Health and Disease

By Dr. William Connor

Interest in omega-3 fatty acids began some 30 years ago and there are now several thousand papers in the scientific literature supporting their benefits.

There is little doubt that omega-3 fatty acids are important in human nutrition. They are significant structural components of the cell membranes of tissues throughout the body and are especially rich in the retina, brain, and sperm, in which docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) constitutes 36.4% of total fatty acids

Membrane fluidity is essential for proper functioning of these tissues. In the retina, where omega-3 fatty acids are especially important, deficiency can result in decreased vision and abnormal electroretinogram results.

Omega-3 Fatty acids are essential fatty acids, necessary from conception through pregnancy and infancy and, undoubtedly, throughout life.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids has increased in industrialized societies because of increased consumption of vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids, ie, linoleic acid, and reduced consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Another important feature of omega-3 fatty acids is their role in the prevention and modulation of certain diseases that are common in Western civilization.

The following is a partial list of diseases that may be prevented or ameliorated with omega-3 fatty acids, in descending order of the strength of the available evidence as perceived by this reviewer:

Coronary heart disease and stroke;
Essential fatty acid deficiency in infancy (retinal and brain development);
Autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus and nephropathy);
Crohn disease;
Cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate;
Mild hypertension; and
Rheumatoid arthritis.

Cardiovascular Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The strongest evidence of a relation between omega-3 fatty acids and disease is the inverse relation between the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet and in blood and tissues and the occurrence of coronary heart disease and its many complications. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on coronary heart disease have been shown in hundreds of experiments in animals, humans, tissue culture studies, and clinical trials.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish have been shown to be protective of heart disease and, by a variety of mechanisms, prevent deaths from coronary disease, particularly cardiac arrest. The unique properties of these fatty acids in coronary heart disease first became apparent in the investigations of the health status of Greenland Eskimos who consumed diets very high in fat from seals, whales, and fish and yet had a low rate of coronary heart disease.

Further studies clarified this paradox. The fat the Eskimos consumed contained large quantities of the very-long-chain and highly polyunsaturated fatty acids of EPA and DHA, which are abundant in fish, shellfish, and sea mammals and are scarce or absent in land animals and plants. EPA and DHA are synthesized by phytoplankton, which are the plants of the waters and the base of the food chain for marine life.

Dietary omega-3 fatty acids act to prevent heart disease through a variety of actions. They:

Prevent arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation),
Prostaglandin and leukotriene precursors,
Have anti-inflammatory properties,
Inhibit synthesis of cytokines and mitogens,
Stimulate endothelial-derived nitric oxide,
Have hypolipidemic properties with effects on triglycerides and VLDLs, and
Inhibit atherosclerosis.

EPA and DHA have strong antiarrhythmic action on the heart. In experimental animals and tissue culture systems, EPA and DHA prevent the development of ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation. Even total mortality has been improved in several studies in which the omega-3 fatty acid intake was increased. In one study, men who consumed salmon 1 time/wk had a 70% less likelihood of cardiac arrest.

In another study overall mortality was decreased by 29% in men with overt cardiovascular disease who consumed omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil, probably because of the reduction in cardiac arrests.

The most recent data on fish consumption and risk of sudden cardiac death were from the Physician’s Health Study in the United States in 20551 male physicians. Consumption of 1 fish meal/week was associated with a 52% lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared with consumption of >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

More from study in The Lancet February 8, 2003; 361(9356);477-485

Doctors have discovered how oily fish protects against heart disease and stroke. Researchers at Southampton University have found that omega-3 oils stop the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries. If left unchecked these deposits can block key routes to the heart or brain triggering an attack or stroke. The findings add to growing evidence that eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements reduce the risks of this happening.

Professor Philip Calder and colleagues based their findings on a study of 162 patients who were waiting to have surgery to remove dangerously high levels of fatty build-up or plaques in their arteries.

The patients were divided into three groups and were asked to take either omega-3 fish-oil capsules, sunflower-oil capsules or a dummy capsule six times a day. On average, they took the capsules for 42 days.

After the patients underwent surgery, doctors examined their plaques.

They found that there were far fewer inflammatory cells in the plaques of patients who had taken the omega-3 fish oil capsules. This meant that they were less likely to rupture and to trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Professor Calder hailed the results saying they offered hope to the hundreds of thousands of people who die from arterial disease every year. He suggested that people should eat more oily fish or take fish-oil supplements. “I have no hesitation in recommending that people increase their consumption of omega-3s, even if they are not ill, because they are protective,” he said.


Flax Seed Oil Actually Increases Prostate Cancer While Fish Oil Decreases It

A recent study of about 47,000 men has found the ALA omega-3 fatty acids stimulate the growth of prostate tumors in men. Of the men monitored over 14 years, some 3,000 struggled with prostate cancer and about one in seven were suffering from the advanced stages of the disease.

Researchers found men who were suffering from advanced prostate cancer had higher quantities of ALA from non-animal as well as meat and dairy sources.

Scientists also found EPA and DHA could reduce the risk of total and advanced prostate cancer too. How does EPA and DHA work to prevent prostate cancer? Researchers offered these possibilities:

modification of membrane phospholipid composition
alteration of cell signaling and receptor activity
lipid peroxidation
cyclooxygenase inhibition
cytokine production
interference with androgen activity

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2004 80(1);204-216

Dietary intake of n–3 and n–6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer1,2,3
Michael F Leitzmann, Meir J Stampfer, Dominique S Michaud, Katarina Augustsson, Graham C Colditz, Walter C Willett and Edward L Giovannucci
1 From the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Bethesda, MD (MFL and DSM); the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston (MJS, WCW, and ELG); the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston (MJS, GCC, WCW, and ELG); and the Department of Medical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm (KA)

Background: Laboratory studies have shown that n–3 fatty acids inhibit and n–6 fatty acids stimulate prostate tumor growth, but whether the dietary intake of these fatty acids affects prostate cancer risk in humans remains unclear.

Objective: We prospectively evaluated the association between intakes of -linolenic (ALA; 18:3n–3), eicosapentaenoic (EPA; 20:5n–3), docosahexaenoic (DHA; 22:6n–3), linoleic (LA; 18:2n–6), and arachidonic (AA; 20:4n–6) acids and prostate cancer risk.

Design: A cohort of 47 866 US men aged 40–75 y with no cancer history in 1986 was followed for 14 y.

Results: During follow-up, 2965 new cases of total prostate cancer were ascertained, 448 of which were advanced prostate cancer. ALA intake was unrelated to the risk of total prostate cancer. In contrast, the multivariate relative risks (RRs) of advanced prostate cancer from comparisons of extreme quintiles of ALA from nonanimal sources and ALA from meat and dairy sources were 2.02 (95% CI: 1.35, 3.03) and 1.53 (0.88, 2.66), respectively. EPA and DHA intakes were related to lower prostate cancer risk. The multivariate RRs of total and advanced prostate cancer from comparisons of extreme quintiles of the combination of EPA and DHA were 0.89 (0.77, 1.04) and 0.74 (0.49, 1.08), respectively. LA and AA intakes were unrelated to the risk of prostate cancer. The multivariate RR of advanced prostate cancer from a comparison of extreme quintiles of the ratio of LA to ALA was 0.62 (0.45, 0.86).

Conclusions: Increased dietary intakes of ALA may increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer. In contrast, EPA and DHA intakes may reduce the risk of total and advanced prostate cancer.

Best, Chuck


Fish Oil More Useful for Treating Inflammation Than Flax Seed Oil

While all omega-3 fats possess immune-boosting qualities, omega-3 fats from fish oil, EPA and DHA, are more biologically potent than omega-3 fat ALA, found in plant sources such as flax seeds.

These fats have also been found, by many animal and clinical studies, to have anti-inflammatory properties, indicating that they might be beneficial to managing diseases such as coronary heart disease, depression and cancer. Omega-3 fats many also help with aging.

Clinical trials have also assessed the benefits of supplementing the diet with fish oils and results showed a decrease in diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.

Journal American College Nutrition December 2002;21(6):495-505
Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

Among the fatty acids, it is the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which possess the most potent immunomodulatory activities, and among the omega-3 PUFA, those from fish oil-eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)–are more biologically potent than alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Some of the effects of omega-3 PUFA are brought about by modulation of the amount and types of eicosanoids made, and other effects are elicited by eicosanoid-independent mechanisms, including actions upon intracellular signaling pathways, transcription factor activity and gene expression. Animal experiments and clinical intervention studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, might be useful in the management of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Coronary heart disease, major depression, aging and cancer are characterized by an increased level of interleukin 1 (IL-1), a proinflammatory cytokine. Similarly, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and lupus erythematosis are autoimmune diseases characterized by a high level of IL-1 and the proinflammatory leukotriene LTB(4) produced by omega-6 fatty acids. There have been a number of clinical trials assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches. Many of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Best, chuck

Related Posts:


  1. Arrow Durfee Says:

    Omega-3 again linked to lower colorectal cancer risk

    Read article here:

  2. Arrow Durfee Says:

    “High doses of fish oil reduced the size and concentration of several lipoprotein subclasses in type II diabetes patients while lowering patients’ insulin sensitivity according to study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (ePub, ahead of print, Feb. 2007, DOI: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602703).”

  3. Arrow Durfee Says:

    Thanks for finding this Chuck! – Omega-3 for better mood (new 2007 study)

    BUDAPEST, Hungary—Gray areas of the brain tied to mood and behavior are directly affected by omega-3 intake, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh. To determine average intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, researchers interviewed 55 healthy adults. Gray brain matter volumes were then established using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); researchers noted a direct correlation between high levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake and high volumes of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with emotion—the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, right amygdala and right hippocampus. Conversely, participants with low levels of omega-3s in the same areas were more likely to report mild or moderate symptoms of depression, have a negative outlook and be more impulsive. The findings of this study were first reported at the American Psychosomatic Society’s Annual Meeting in Budapest.

  4. Arrow Durfee Says:

    Salmon and Cod Liver Oil Contamination: Key Point – Rely on Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil for Your Omega-3 Fatty Acid Needs (By Doc Michael Murray)

    In the last month, two alarming studies were released on the issue of contamination of salmon with pesticides and the presence of flame retardants in cod liver oil. As more and more research is documenting the health benefits of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils, it appears that the solution is to rely on truly pharmaceutical grade fish oil products like RxOmega-3 Factors for these valuable compounds.

    Fish consumption has been an important source of human nutrition since prehistoric times. However, during the past decades, per capita fish consumption has expanded tremendously in the United States. In particular, salmon consumption increased annually at a rate of 23% in the U.S. between 1987 and 1999. This increase has been fueled in part by falling prices caused by the farming of salmon and a result of increased awareness on the health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon.

    It is now estimated that individuals whose diets include a higher intake of fish, particularly those high in omega-3 fatty acids, reduce their risk of heart disease by roughly 47% compared to those individuals who do not eat fish.1-3

    In addition to heart disease, scientists now know that fish consumption can lower the risk for many cancers (particularly breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer) and many other chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.4,5

    While virtually all fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, some like salmon contain much more than others. . Table 1 provides a general grouping of fish and seafood based upon their omega-3 fatty acid content.

    Table 1:
    Fish and Shellfish Grouped by Their Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content

    Higher Level Group – (More than 1.0 gram per 3 ounce cooked serving)
    Bluefin Tuna

    Medium Level Group – (Between 0.5 to 1.0 grams per 3 ounce cooked serving)
    Freshwater Bass
    Striped Bass
    Rainbow Trout
    Blue Mussels

    Lower Level Group – (0.5 grams or less per 3 ounce cooked serving)
    Mahi Mahi
    Northern Pike
    Pacific Rockfish
    Red Snapper
    Sea Trout
    Skipjack Tuna
    Yellowfin Tuna

    How Much Fish Should You Consume?
    Based upon the research looking at the amount of fish required to offer protection against heart disease, it appears that having fish about twice a week will provide distinct health benefits. That translates to approximately 10 to 12 ounces of fish per week or roughly 200 to 400 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day. However, the recent reports on the problems with contaminants in salmon and other fish have led to modifications in the amount of fish that should be consumed. For example, based upon the results of a recent study on the level of contaminants in salmon (particularly farmed salmon), the recommendation on safe levels of consumption per month aimed at avoiding any significant increase in cancer risks was roughly one portion per month for farmed salmon and no more than one or two portions per week for wild Alaskan salmon.

    Wild vs. Farmed Fish?
    While fish farms now contribute a large amount of the fish being consumed, including over 50% of salmon, the bottom line is that wild “free range” fish are superior in many ways to their farm raised counterpart, so rely on them as much as possible. FDA statistics on the nutritional content (protein and fat-ratios) of farm versus wild salmon show that wild salmon have a 20% higher protein content and a 20% lower fat content than farm-raised salmon. And, while farm raised salmon also provide high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, the benefits from these fats are somewhat offset by a higher content of omega-6 fatty acids.

    Several studies have also shown that farmed salmon accumulate more cancer-causing pesticide residue than wild salmon. The latest report analyzed two metric tons of salmon from 39 sources worldwide.6 The results clearly make a strong case that eating farm-raised fish poses a significant safety concern. While the data clearly show that European salmon are far more contaminated with cancer-inducing contaminants than salmon from North (American and Canadian) and South (Chilean) American sources, in some cases containing ten times the contamination levels of American sources, it also showed that among American sources farmed salmon was more contaminated than wild sources. However, the levels of contamination from farmed salmon in North America were still lower than contamination levels seen in wild European salmon.

    To ensure the safety of the food supply, the FDA has studied PCBs and set limits for tolerable levels which are not associated with risks to human health. For fish, the tolerable level of PCB is 2.0 millionths of a gram (ppm). At 0.056 ppm, the level of PCB found in farmed salmon is still 35 times below the unsafe level of 2.0 ppm.

    The biggest reason that the farm-raised fish had higher levels of pesticides appears to be dependent upon the type of feed they are receiving.7 Farmed fish are given feed pellets that are most often made from fish meal and fish oil-extracted from sardines, anchovies and other ground-up fish. Pesticides, including those now outlawed in the United States, have circulated into the ocean where they are absorbed by marine life and accumulate in their fat. If the fish oil is not properly distilled to reduce the concentrations of these pesticides, it can lead to much higher concentrations in the salmon feed. One commercial salmon feed analyzed in the Canadian study showed a total pesticide level ten times higher than any other feed. The obvious solution is to set limits on allowable pesticide residues in not only farmed-raised fish, but also the feed that they are given.

    To reduce your chances of eating salmon and other fish that is tainted with chemical toxins:
    Eat wild Alaskan salmon as opposed to farm-raised salmon.
    Limit your intake of fresh water fish (particularly from inland lakes) as they are more likely to be contaminated with pesticides and carcinogens like dioxin or PCBs. Lean ocean fish like cod, flounder and haddock are least likely to be contaminated.
    Eat smaller, young fish as they have had less time to accumulate toxins in their fat.
    Check with the Department of Public Health before eating fish from nearby waters. It may be that local industries have polluted the water and caused unusually high levels of toxins in locally caught fish.
    If you are a sport fisherman, don’t eat fish that you catch if you fish the same area over and over.

    What about Fish Oils?
    Consumers were recently given some bad advice by a group of researchers not familiar with the production of pharmaceutical grade fish oil. The researchers suggested that consumers should not take fish oil products because they identified high levels of chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) commonly used in flame retardants in some fish oil supplements, particularly cod liver oil products.8 Used in the textile and electronics industries, PBDEs take a long time to degrade and since they are fat soluble, often end up in fatty tissues of fish and other aquatic species. The study clearly demonstrated that cod liver oil was particularly problematic while fish oils produced from the whole body of the fish showed little to no contamination particularly if the fish oils were sourced from sardine and anchovy fish bodies. Levels of contaminants also tend to rise in species that are higher in the food chain. Sardine and anchovy are relatively low in the food chain, versus cod, tuna etc.

    The bottom line is that I have continually stressed the importance of using a pharmaceutical grade fish oil in previous newsletters. In order to represent itself as pharmaceutical grade a fish oil product must possess the following characteristics:

    It must be manufactured in a certified GMP facility approved for pharmaceutical products.
    It must be manufactured according to pharmaceutical standards that include quality control steps to insure the product is virtually free from lipid peroxides, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, and other harmful compounds.
    It must provide at least a 60% concentration of the most active long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).
    The ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to arachidonic acid must be greater than 50:1
    It must contain the optimal amount of natural vitamin E as a preservative.
    The specific product that I recommend is RxOmega-3 Factors from Natural Factors. It is one of the few fish oil products that truly is a pharmaceutical grade product. Each capsule provides 400 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA – the exact ratio used in so many of the clinical studies.

    Key References:
    Albert CM, Campos H, Stampfer MJ, et al. Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death. N Engl J Med 2002;346:1113-8.
    Hu FB, Bronner L, Willett WC, et al. Fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women. JAMA 2002;287:1815-21.
    Bucher HC, Hengstler P, Schindler C, Meier G. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med 2002;112:298-304.
    Fernandez E, Chatenoud L, La Vecchia C, et al. Fish consumption and cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70(1):85-90.
    Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(6):495-505.
    Hites RA, Foran JA, Carpenter DO, et al. Global assessment of organic contaminants in farmed salmon. Science 2004;303:226-9.
    Easton MD, Luszniak D, Von der GE. Preliminary examination of contaminant loadings in farmed salmon, wild salmon and commercial salmon feed. Chemosphere 2002;46(7):1053-74.
    Jacobs MN, Covaci A, Gheorghe A, Schepens P. Time trend investigation of PCBs, PBDEs, and organochlorine pesticides in selected n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid rich dietary fish oil and vegetable oil supplements; nutritional relevance for human essential n-3 fatty acid requirements. J Agric Food Chem 2004;52(6):1780-8.

    Best, Chuck

  5. Shelli Says:

    Thank you for your article. The results I experienced from taking Super Omega-3 fish oil capsules has been nothing short of amazing. After only two days (taking two caps twice a day)the pain, tenderness and weakness in my hands from RA was reduced to nearly un-noticeable. After a couple more days the swelling in my joints began to diminish. Now my hands are pain free-NO Pain, No Tenderness. I have been suffering for over ten years-wish I had known earlier-glad I know now!! I tell everyone that I think might benefit from fish oil, but they don’t quite get the importance of pharmaceutical grade product.