Medical House Call: What are the benefits of fish oil?

Medical House Call: What are the benefits of fish oil?

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Dr. Lawrence Leader is a cardiologist with Hattiesburg Clinic. He said he has been a cardiologist for nearly 20 years.

Recently, he read a New York Times article published in March of this year.

The article's title is as followed: "Fish oil claims not supported by research." The article states in part: "Fish oil is now the third most widely used dietary supplement in the United States. But there is one big problem: The vast majority of clinical trials involving fish oil have found no evidence that it lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke."

Leader disagrees.

"I would think a reporter who is going to print something needs to be much more cautious about what they print and how it is going to affect the general public." Leader said.

Leader explained what fish oil is, and what it does for our bodies.

"The fish oils that we normally talk about are omega-3. It will decrease your triglycerides. So, it will decrease the inflammatory part of your cells that deposit into your arteries and decreases your likelihood of developing a heart attack or a stroke." Leader said.

He said he doesn't understand the article's claims because he recalls physicians recommending fish oil supplements to patients in the early 2000's. Leader also said there have been many studies proving the benefits of taking fish oil to prevent heart disease and stroke well before that time period.

"There was a study in Italy called the Gissi trial where at three months there was actually a divergence between people that were taking fish oil and people that weren't. It showed right at three months that the people that were taking fish oils were beginning to benefit enough that it was statistically significant." Leader said.

Leader also referred to pages from the American Heart Association. He said from that information, he found references of more than 80 studies concluding the benefits of fish oil.

However, Leader can agree with the part of the article which stated eating fatty fish at least twice a week.

"For people that eat two portions of fish, so two dinners per week of fish lowers by 21 percent their incidents of coronary disease each year, and if it is as many as five to seven portions of fish a week it goes down by 46 percent." Leader said.

He said the more fish you have the better, but he recommends mainly tuna and salmon.

Leader encouraged people to not start or stop any routine, supplements, or medicines based on what you hear or read.

He said, to be safe, talk to your doctor first about anything medical you want to know.