Prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements don’t prevent heart disease, study finds

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Prior research into a prescription medicine derived from fish called Vascepa, announced earlier this year, suggested it might be of real value for heart patients.

But the results from a trial of another such drug called Epanova, released [November 15], are disappointing: Researchers found no benefit from taking the medicine for a wide range of heart health outcomes, compared to taking a placebo pill containing only corn oil.

“Many people continue to take fish oil supplements to prevent heart disease. However, the fish oil medication we tested in the [new] trial was not effective for that purpose,” co-researcher Dr. A. Michael Lincoff said in a news release from the American Heart Association.

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“The question of whether omega-3 fatty acids improve health is important to patients, physicians, and the health care system,” noted Dr. Gregory Curfman, who penned an editorial on the trial. “Even in the COVID-19 era, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.”

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“Given the current uncertain state of knowledge, neither patients nor physicians can be confident that omega-3 fatty acids have any health benefits ,” he said.

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That probably won’t stop Americans from buying the supplements: “In 2019, the global market for omega-3 fatty acids reached $4.1 billion and is expected to double by 2025,” Curfman noted.

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