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Fish oil takes a dive?

Fish oil takes a dive?

Changes in blood lipid, or fat, levels have been the driving force behind the current enthusiasm over fish oils as a convenient method to lower the risk of heart disease. Certain fatty acids in the oils called triglycerides apparently prevent blood clotting and lower lipid levels in the blood (SN: 10/19/85, p.252). Since that discovery, researchers have released some conflicting reports on fish oil's effectiveness, coupled with cautions on possible disadvantages of taking fish oil pills.

One negative effect may be an increase in the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which carries cholesterol in the blood and contributes to fat accumulation, say scientists from the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. In a report presented at last week's meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, Calif., William S. Harris said his group compared the effects of fish oil supplements to those made of safflower oil, in an experiment using patients with high triglyceride levels. The doses of fish oil given contained the amount of fatty acids found in 12 to 15 fish oil capsules. This is roughly equivalent to the fatty acid intake of the Greenland Eskimos, whose low incidence of heart disease first alerted scientists to fish oil's potential benefits. Despite the inconvenience of the fishy burps they developed while taking the oil, patients in the study benefited from the lowering by 40 percent of triglyceride levels, says Harris.

But the effect on lipoproteins wasn't so positive. While levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)--LDL's "good' counterpart --remained the same, LDL levels rose by about 16 percent. In view of LDL's link to heart disease (see p. 348), Harris says researchers should take a closer look at the relative risks and benefits of fish oil supplements.
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Title Annotation:conflicting on fish oil's effectiveness in reducing risk of heart disease
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 28, 1987
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