Could Fish Oil One Day Take the Place of Statin Drugs?

by Health News

Statins are a class of drugs are a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver. Brand names include Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor. An estimated 15 million Americans are currently taking some form of Statin drug. While these drugs have proven effective at lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, they have also been shown to have serious side effects, including elevated liver enzymes, myalgia (muscle pain), loss of muscle function and muscular inflammation.

Could Fish Oil One Day Take the Place of Statin Drugs?

If so many people are turning to drugs that are potentially life-saving (by preventing cholesterol-related heart attacks) but have serious side effects, it leaves one to wonder if there is a more natural, safer alternative. Perhaps there is. Researchers at Wageningen University’s Division of Human Nutrition believe they may have found such an alternative: Omega-3 fatty acids.

In a study* recently published in The European Heart Journal, researchers enlisted 3,740 men and women using statin drugs and 413 non-users, testing the effects of 400 milligrams per day of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 2 grams per day of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), EPA/DHA plus alpha-linolenic acid, or a placebo on the risk of major cardiovascular events in post-heart attack patients between the ages of 60 and 80 years. Participants were enrolled from 2002 through 2006 and were followed for an average of 41 months.

The results? While neither EPA/DHA and/or ALA reduced cardiovascular events compared to the placebo in those who used statins, among those who did not use the drugs, consuming all three omega-3 fatty acids was associated with less than half the rate of experiencing an event compared to placebo.

"The present study indicates that low-dose supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids might reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in statin non-users with a history of myocardial infarction," the authors conclude.


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