Do omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements lower heart disease risk? Only for people with specific genes, researchers find

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Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

[N]ew research from a team led by a University of Georgia scientist indicates that taking fish oil only provides health benefits if you have the right genetic makeup.

The study, led by Kaixiong Ye and published in PLOS Genetics, focused on fish oil (and the omega-3 fatty acids it contains) and its effect on triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood and a biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

“We’ve known for a few decades that a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood is associated with a lower risk of heart disease,” said Ye, assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “What we found is that fish oil supplementation is not good for everyone; it depends on your genotype. If you have a specific genetic background, then fish oil supplementation will help lower your triglycerides. But if you do not have that right genotype, taking a fish oil supplement actually increases your triglycerides.”

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Determining your genotype is not as far-fetched as it sounds, thanks to direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies. Companies may not report that specific genetic variant yet, but a tech-savvy consumer should be able to download the raw data and look at the specific position to discover the genotype.

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