The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    A pithy review of omega-3 fatty acids

     Dr. Eric Chan and Dr. Leslie Cho from the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio waste no words in an excellent review.

    Here are some highlights
    Benefits

    • High dietary intake of omega-3 is strongly linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease in epidemiologic studies.

    Response to treatment

    • Fish oil supplements lower triglyceride levels.
    • Starting at a triglyceride level of 816 mg/dL, 4 grams/day of omega-3 lowers triglyceride levels to 488 mg/dL, a 45% reduction.
      • Normal: less than 150 mg/dL
      • Borderline-high: 150–199 mg/dL
      • High: 200–499 mg/dL
      • Very high: 500 mg/dL
    • In addition, HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased 9%.
    • Omega-3 may also prevent arrhythmias, reduce inflammation, inhibit platelet aggregation, and lower blood pressure, all of which should reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Safety

    • Generally, omega-3 fatty acids are well tolerated.
    • Adverse effects are limited to gastrointestinal complaints (discomfort, upset stomach) and a fishy odor.
    • Common ways to prevent these effects are to freeze the capsules or take them at bedtime or with meals.
      • My recommendation is that if you experience a fishy odor, buy another brand of omega-3.
    • The risk of bleeding with omega-3 is minimal.

    The bottom line?

    According to the American Heart Association…

    • High dietary intake of omega-3 is strongly linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease in epidemiologic studies.

    Response to treatment

    • Fish oil supplements lower triglyceride levels.
    • Starting at a triglyceride level of 816 mg/dL, 4 grams/day of omega-3 lowers triglyceride levels to 488 mg/dL, a 45% reduction.
    • In addition, HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased by 9%.
    • They may also prevent arrhythmias, reduce inflammation (although they have minimal impact on C-reactive protein), inhibit platelet aggregation, and lower blood pressure, all of which should reduce cardiovascular risk.

    Safety

    • Generally, omega-3 fatty acids are well tolerated.
    • Adverse effects are limited to gastrointestinal complaints (discomfort, upset stomach) and a fishy odor.
    • Common ways to prevent these effects are to freeze the capsules or take them at bedtime or with meals.
    • My recommendation is that if you experience a fishy odor, buy another brand of omega-3.
    • The risk of bleeding with omega-3 is minimal.

    The bottom line?

    • Healthy people should consume fish (preferably oily fish) at least twice a week.
    • People with known coronary artery disease should take 1 gram of omega-3 per day

    4/13/09 21:17 JR

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