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A new research paper was published in Nature Communications examining the relationship between the Omega-3 Index and the risk of death from all causes. It found that people with higher blood levels of omega-3 EPA and DHA (i.e., omega-3 index) lived longer than those with lower levels. In other words, those who died with relatively low omega-3 levels died prematurely, which means they might have lived longer had their levels been higher, all things being equal.
Numerous studies have examined the link between omega-3 fatty acids and diseases of the heart, brain, eyes, and joints, but few studies have looked at their possible effects on lifespan.
Japan’s omega-3 fatty acid intake and blood levels are higher than most other countries in the world, and they live longer than most. Coincidence? Possibly or maybe a high omega-3 index is part of the explanation.
Studies reporting estimated dietary intake of fish or omega-3s have reported benefits in terms of risk of death from all causes, but “diet record” studies weigh little because of the inaccuracy in actual EPA and DHA intake. Studies using biomarkers – that is, blood levels – of omega-3s are much more credible because the “exposure” variable is objective.
This new paper is from the FORCE – Fatty Acids & Outcomes Research – Consortium. FORCE is made up of researchers around the world who have collected data on blood fatty acid levels in large groups of study participants (or cohorts) and observed these individuals over many years to determine which diseases they develop. This data is then pooled to get a clearer picture of these relationships than a single cohort can provide. The current study focused on omega-3 levels and the risk of death during the follow-up period and is the largest study to date.
In particular, this report is a prospective analysis of pooled data from 17 different cohorts from around the world, including 42,466 people who were followed for an average of 16 years and during which 15,720 people died. When FORCE researchers examined the risk of death from any cause, those with the highest EPA + DHA levels (i.e., in the 90th percentile) had a statistically significant, 13% lower risk of death than those with EPA + DHA levels in the 10th percentile . When they looked at three main causes of death – cardiovascular disease, cancer and all other causes combined – they found statistically significant risk reductions (again when comparing the 90th vs. 10th percentile) of 15%, 11% and 13%, respectively.
The range between the 10th and 90th percentile for EPA + DHA (in terms of red blood cell membrane omega-3 levels, i.e. the omega-3 index) was about 3.5% to 7.6%. Other studies suggest that an optimal omega-3 index is 8% or more.
In the new paper, the authors found that these results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may have a positive impact on overall health and thus slow the aging process, and that they are not only good for heart disease.
“Since all of these analyzes have been statistically adjusted for various personal and medical factors (i.e. age, gender, weight, smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. plus omega-6 fatty acid levels in the blood), we believe these are the strongest to date published data support the view that higher levels of omega-3s in the blood can help maintain better overall health in the long term, “said Dr. Bill Harris, founder of the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) and lead author on this paper.
Dr. Harris helped develop the omega-3 index as an objective measure of the body’s omega-3 status 17 years ago. The measurement of omega-3 fatty acids in the red blood cell membranes provides an accurate picture of total omega-3 intake over the past four to six months. To date, the omega-3 index has been featured in more than 200 research studies.
“This comprehensive look at observational studies of circulating omega-3s shows that the long-chain omega-3s EPA, DPA, and DHA, which are normally derived from seafood, are strongly linked to all-cause mortality, while the levels of plant-based omega 3-fatty acids 3-alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are less, “said Tom Brenna, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics, human nutrition and chemistry at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.
Research shows that people with a high omega-3 index are less likely to die from COVID-19
et al., Blood n-3 fatty acid levels and total and cause-specific mortality from 17 prospective studies, Nature Communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-22370-2
Provided by the Fatty Acid Research Institute
Quote: New study shows people with a high omega-3 index are less likely to die prematurely (2021, April 23), accessed June 8, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-people- high-omega-index- die.html
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