Volume 2, Issue 9
February 26, 2009
Why omega-3 supplements
can stop heart disease,
stroke, cancer, and more
Did you know that I use omega-3 supplements every day in literally every patient I see? It's true. And here's why: Because they work!
I regularly see them reduce inflammation, enhance circulation, and offset many of the unhealthy effects of bad eating habits. They also improve mood and cognition, reduce joint and muscle aches, improve vision, and prevent and even treat cancer.
And just about the time I think I've found the limit to what omega-3 oils can accomplish, along comes another study showing even more benefit. The latest is a study on the omega-3 oils alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
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Your body converts ALA into both EPA and DHA. It's EPA and DHA that exert all of the clinical benefits of omega-3 oils. Good dietary sources for ALA are vegetables and flax oil. But plants can't metabolize ALA to EPA or DHA. So the only way to get EPA and DHA is to eat grass-fed animals, eggs from chickens fed omega-3 foods, or fish.ÿ Of all of these foods, fish (especially fish oils) are the highest in EPA and DHA.
Recently, researchers looked at the effects of taking fish oil supplements on blood levels of highly sensitive C-reactive protein (HS-CRP). Elevated levels of HS-CRP in the blood increase your risk for heart attacks and stroke. This is particularly true for women. HS-CRP levels increase the risk of a woman dying suddenly of a heart attack more than any other risk factor.
The authors of this study examined and compared the effects of two different kinds of oils on HS-CRP levels. They took 30 healthy postmenopausal women. And all of them had one thing in common — they all took Premarin and Provera. These are two of the most popular drugs used to alleviate menopausal symptoms. The Women's Health Initiative conclusively showed that women taking these drugs have a statistically significant increased risk of heart disease and stroke. One of the theories is that the drugs do this at least partially by increasing inflammation and HS-CRP.
The researchers divided the women into three groups. They gave one group three tablespoons of safflower oil per day. Safflower oil has very little ALA, and no EPA or DHA. Another group took three tablespoons of fish oil. And the third group took half and half — 1½ tablespoons of safflower oil mixed with 1½ tablespoons of fish oil. Then the researchers checked all of their HS-CRP levels to see if the oils had any effect.
The pure fish oil group had the lowest levels of HS-CRP. In fact, they were significantly lower than the levels achieved by either the safflower group or the half-and-half group. The researchers also discovered that pure fish oil even lowers interleukin 6 (IL-6). IL-6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that goes up in virtually every disease there is — including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and cancer.
And, if that weren't enough, the pure fish oil group also had much lower levels of triglycerides. These are the fats that often initiate heart attacks.
The researchers concluded that fish oils decrease your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol and inflammation. However, the oils did much more than that. They also reduce your risk of every known disease! They really are that powerful.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Ciubotaru I, Lee YS, Wander RC Dietary fish oil decreases C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and triacylglycerol to HDL-cholesterol ratio in postmenopausal women on HRT. J Nutr Biochem. 2003 Sep;14(9):513-21
Copyright 2009 Soundview Publishing, LLC
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