Are Your Omega-3 Supplements Secretly Killing You?

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Omega-3 fish oil supplements are one of the most widely used supplements. All over the world, people have incorporated Omega-3s into their health regimes. They are believed to be beneficial in a number of ways:

1) Scientists believe they might play a role in reducing inflammation in the body (blood vessels, joints, etc).
2) They lower triglyceride levels - which when elevated can increase risk of heart disease.
3) Reduce depression.
4) Help people with with rheumatoid arthritis - reduce stiffness and joint pain.
5) Can reduce symptoms of ADHD in children and promote cognitive function.
6) Prenatal health.
7) Asthma - reduce the inflammation.

However, a recent study showed that men with higher concentrations of omega-3s in their blood from animal sources had an 44% increased chance of developing prostate cancer when compared to those with low levels of them same in their blood. 

The first thing worth noting is that the study wasn't actually a study centered around the consumption and consequences of taking Omega-3 supplements, but was a study called 'SELECT' or Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. Therefore the participants of this trial were not actually being given Omega-3 supplements, in fact most of them reported not having taken any at all. 

The second thing to remember is that correlation is not causation. While the study shows a possible correlation between the blood concentration of Omega-3s and prostate cancer, since the study was not specifically targeted at the problem they seemed to have found they did not control for third variables or manipulate an independent variable and since they haven't proved that it isn't reverse causation either (could people with prostate cancer have higher levels of Omega-3s?), all of this in addition to the fact that other studies did not support this finding, therefore it's more than likely that the findings were either due to chance - or, basically, anything else.

So, in conclusion, at the moment, we have no proof of the supposed harms of consuming Omega-3s while there is plenty of proof of the good the supplement does. In addition to that, what's clear is that the media often overlooks more sensible (often more correct) studies and arguments in favor of those that will cause a frenzy - so what I'm taking away from this is not to make decisions based solely on the word of the media. 

What do you think of the study? Are you likely to start/stop your Omega-3 supplement regime? Do you think this was a well conducted study? 

Here are a few examples of the media delivering the news calmly while not trying to cause a frenzy:

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1 Comment

In my opinion, the effects of supplements and bio-engineered vitamins are still largely unproven. There is not enough scientific evidence to significantly support the claim that they are beneficial to our health. Nor is there enough evidence to support that they are bad for people. The best and proven way to get vitamins and nutrients seems to be through fruits, vegetables, and other food products in which they occur naturally. Here is a discussion of why:

In addition, I know that Omega 3's are very abundant in fish products and have a whole slew of health benefits (detailed in the website below).

Therefore, rationally, I can not be worried about consuming them.

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