Food & Nutrition

Do fish oil supplements raise the risk of heart disease?


Each year, over 2,000,000 new research articles are published in more than 30,000 peer-reviewed journals across all fields of study (Ref 1). For one to make headlines from Thailand (Ref 2) to The Times (Ref 3) is quite an achievement. This week’s note is about a paper that generated such global headlines. The Thailand headline was “Study finds that regular use of fish oil supplements might be a risk factor for atrial fibrillation and stroke!” The Times headline was “Fish oil supplements may raise heart disease risk in healthy people.” Both headlines were alarming for the many people who take fish oil supplements. The full scale of the news coverage can be seen on Altmetric (Ref 4).

The paper was called “Regular use of fish oil supplements and course of cardiovascular diseases: prospective cohort study” and it was published by Chen et al (Ref 5). The main author was from China. Other authors were from the US, UK, Denmark and China. The study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The B&MGF has a few agendas in the food arena including one related to fish and aquaculture (Ref 6).

Disclaimer – I take fish oil supplements. However, I am open to compelling evidence to stop taking them and to save myself the bother and money.

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