New Studies conclude Omega 3's, not Statins, Cut Risk of Heart Deaths

Fish oils are better than cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. That's the conclusion of two long-term studies, published this week in the Lancet medical journal. The studies compared the effects of giving patients with heart failure cholesterol-lowering statin drugs or omega 3 fish oils versus placebo.  Those given omega 3 fats had a significantly reduced risk of death or hospitalisation,  while the statin drugs had no effect.  Those taking 1 gram a day of omega 3 fats cut their risk of mortality by 9% and risk of admission to hospital by 8% compared to placebo. Those taking statins had no reduction in risk after almost four years on the drug.

This adds to the weight of evidence in favour of upping omega 3 intake, both from diet and supplements. Taking 1 gram of omega 3 fish oil a day, as given in this study, is equivalent  to eating a serving of oily fish almost every day.

It also confirms growing evidence of ineffectiveness of statin drugs in reducing mortality, both in healthy people and those with heart failure.  A previous meta-analysis of trials giving statins to healthy people found no difference in mortality after almost four years use.

Despite growing evidence of ineffectiveness the UK government remain committed to prescribing statins to millions of people, and GPs are financially rewarded for doing so. In the US there is a move to prescribe statins to 8 year olds as a preventative measure against future heart disease.

When this trial was designed, some medical experts even expressed concern that it was unethical to give heart-failure patients placebos because they were so confident of the benefit of statin therapy. According to the lead researcher Dr Philip Poole-Wilson from Imperial College, London "The results ultimately should humble researchers, especially as they serve as reminder that medical decisions should be guided by science, and not strongly held opinion." Gissi-Hf Investigators.Lancet. 2008

Wishing you the best of health,

Patrick Holford

Further reading:

To find out more about the best way to prevent and reverse heart disease read Food is Better Medicine than Drugs by Patrick Holford and Jerome Burne.
Forever has a superior range of supplements, including high-quality omega 3.
Our thanks to Patrick Holford for this newsletter dated 5th September 2008 …