Dr Urman Quoted in Business Week About Fish Oil Pills

  • Posted on: Jun 28 2013
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Mark Urman, MD of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and member of the American College of Cardiology Prevention Committee is quoted about the unproven benefits of fish oil supplements.

“…Statins have been proven in studies to cut heart risk. The benefits of fish-oil pills are less certain. Though they target triglycerides, fatty substances in the blood that have been linked to a higher risk of heart attacks, little evidence exists that the pills prevent heart attacks.
“It`s very unclear what role fatty acids play for cardiac patients,” Mark Urman, a member of the American College of Cardiology Prevention Committee and practicing cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said in an interview. “The lab tests look better, but has it done the patient any good? … It should be clear that they are not alternatives to statins,” Cedars-Sinai`s Urman said.

In many observational studies, people who eat a diet that’s high in fish have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. To be clear, this is an observation which does not necessarily prove cause and effect. It is possible that fish eaters may replace foods–like red meat–that increase risk or fish eaters might have other behaviors that lower their risk. Most of the more recent evidence using omega-3 or fish oil supplements has not shown a convincing reduction in risk of heart problems. One possibility is that in the patients more recently studied, they were already so well managed to reduce their risk of heart problems such as with statins, that it becomes very difficult to statistically prove additional benefit.
Dr. Urman usually recommends to his patients that eating more fish as part of a well balanced Mediterranean-style diet is more prudent than relying on omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are definitely useful to lower triglycerides, especially in those whose triglycerides are extremely high (such as around 1000 mg/dL) and whom might be at a high risk of pancreatitis (dangerous inflammation of the pancreas).
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Last updated: 08/01/2013

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