Studies: Omega-3s temper premature births, heart attacks

Published on
November 21, 2018

New research linking omega-3 fatty acids with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as the reduction of dangerous premature births is expected to have benefits for the seafood industry.

In a study of people who took Lovaza, a prescription omega-3 fish oil, researchers found that subjects were 28 percent less likely to suffer heart attacks than those taking a placebo. Additionally, people who ate fewer than 1.5 servings of fish weekly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 19 percent when taking Lovaza. 

The research was presented at the recent American Heart Association 2018 Scientific Sessions in Chicago, Illinois, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The use of fish oil did not significantly reduce risk for those eating more seafood, but the average overall showed a reduced risk,” Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of pediatrics, chemistry, and nutrition at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, and chair of Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s Scientific and Nutrition Advisory Council, told SeafoodSource. "The message here is, ‘If you don't eat fish, take supplements.'"

Alongside the Lovaza study, a new Cochrane Review of 70 studies worldwide found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced dangerous preterm births by 42 percent.

The extensive review of published studies, which included 20,000 pregnant women, also revealed an 11 percent reduction in preterm births, and a 10 percent reduction in risk of having a low-birthweight baby. The researchers reviewed studies involving fish oil supplements as well as seafood.

“This study is further evidence that health professionals should be actively promoting fish and omega-3s among pregnant women as they have possibly the most to gain from eating more fish,” Jennifer McGuire, a registered dietitian for the National Fisheries Institute, told SeafoodSource.

Because the review is based on a large number of high-quality studies spanning 30 years, “I expect this to be the best evidence for at least a decade - if not a generation,” Brenna said. “Seafood professionals should utilize the high-quality evidence that is now available regarding seafood and pregnancy to develop messaging and talking points for consumers.” 

Both studies “build on the strong science that consuming seafood and marine sources of omega-3s strongly support heart health and overall wellness,” Seafood Nutrition Partnership President  Linda Cornish said. “There’s a healthy halo associated with eating seafood and these studies help to increase our understanding of why it is important to eat at least two servings of seafood per week and supplement with omega-3s as needed.”

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