Here’s something you don’t see… EVER!
Recently, an institution that sits smack in the middle of the medical mainstream publicly questioned the wisdom of a Big Kahuna medical journal.
But what makes this VERY odd is that the institution was defending the reputation of a dietary supplement.
Rare? Oh, yes. Right up there with blue moons and flying pigs.
The institution is the American Heart Association. The publication is The Journal of the American Medical Association.
And the supplement… Omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’ve heard reports that omega-3s are a “disappointment,” ignore those reports. Ignore them COMPLETELY.
A little digging reveals that the JAMA study actually shows the exact opposite.
Redo the math
We’ve seen this one many times.
A high-profile study produces a dramatic conclusion. But apply a little scrutiny and the drama falls flat.
In this case, the study found that omega-3s didn’t lower risk of death due to cardiac events.
Now, if you’ve got a serious heart condition, you can’t expect a daily pill (supplement, drug, whatever) to prevent a heart attack or a stroke. A daily omega-3 supplement MIGHT do that. But you can’t expect a silver bullet. It’s heart support, not heart magic.
That said, the support is significant. Especially if you’re in good health to begin with.
In this study, many of the subjects were not in good health. In fact, many were taking heart medications. So heart problems were already underway.
In addition, this study was an analysis of 20 different trials. So the quality, doses, and sources of omega-3s varied widely.
All these variables are enough to dismiss the conclusion. And here’s where the American Heart Association comes in.
An AHA spokesperson told the Wall St. Journal that the researchers applied a very high standard for statistical significance. If they had applied the standard that researchers normally use…
…let’s savor this one…
…their results would have linked omega-3 supplement use with a REDUCTION in cardiac deaths of nearly 10%!
The AHA spokesperson said that her colleagues were already writing letters to JAMA editors. And the AHA will continue to recommend omega-3 supplements to heart disease patients.
These supplements aren’t silver bullets. But they can still produce amazing results.
“Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 308, No. 10, 9/12/12, jama.jamanetwork.com
“Questioning the Superpowers of Omega-3 in Diets” Melinda Beck, The Wall St. Journal, 10/1/12, online.wsj.com