Statin drugs versus omega-3 for heart health

Statin drugs versus omega-3 for heart health

If the French researchers’ hypothesis is correct, statin-induced adverse changes in essential fatty acid metabolism may be contaminating clinical trials that attempt to demonstrate the value of omega-3 fats and fish oil for human health.

If the French researchers’ hypothesis is correct, statin-induced adverse changes in essential fatty acid metabolism may be contaminating clinical trials that attempt to demonstrate the value of omega-3 fats and fish oil for human health.

by Mary Budinger — 

A new study published in the journal BMC Medicine sheds light on why the widely publicized fish oil study released late last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed no evidence of cardiovascular disease risk reduction associated with omega-3 intake.

In the new study, researchers in France proposed that more recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on fish oil and heart health that have reported negative findings, such as the JAMA study, can be explained by two hidden variables:

1. Today, with increased awareness of the health benefits and increased consumption of omega-3 fats, the vast majority of participants in these newer trials are no longer as omega-3 fat-deficient and, therefore, may not show as great, if any, measurable beneficial effect when given additional supplemented omega-3.

2. The vast majority of contemporary RCT study participants are also on statin drugs, which suppress the beneficial properties of omega-3 fatty acids within the body, making negative findings more likely.

That second variable, that statins suppress omega-3 fatty acid benefits, is the most groundbreaking, as very few doctors or patients are aware of this possibility. Statins also exert a broad range of adverse health effects in the body, including major deficiencies of zinc, copper, selenium, CoQ10 and vitamin E.

In support of their hypothesis, the French researchers cite studies indicating that statin drugs favor the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids which, in turn, inhibit omega-3 fatty acids. Essentially, omega-6 and omega-3 compete with one another for the same metabolic enzymes. Also, omega-6 fats, contrary to omega-3 fats, increase insulin resistance, which increases the risk of diabetes. This may explain the well-known tendency for statin drugs to promote diabetes.

An over-preponderance of omega-6 fats has been linked to inflammatory health conditions and cancer, which may be due to the role they play in the excessive formation of arachidonic acid, a substrate for inflammation-associated enzymes COX-2 and LOX, as well as contributing to the downstream formation of many inflammatory hormones in the body, e.g., prostaglandin E2, thromboxane, leukotriene, etc.

Since most prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs on the market increase the blood concentration of arachidonic acid, it is quite possible that statin-induced dysregulation of omega-3/omega-6 production, their ratio and metabolism, may contribute to a whole host of adverse health effects. Indeed, the biomedical literature signals more than 300 health problems caused by this chemical class of drugs.

The French researchers also cite post-hoc statin drug research demonstrating that when separating statin users and non-users, omega-3 mediated cardioprotection was observed only in non-statin users. Also, in recent randomized controlled testing, omega-3 supplementation was found to reduce the risk of arrhythmias only in patients not taking a statin.

If the French researchers’ hypothesis is correct, statin-induced adverse changes in essential fatty acid metabolism may be contaminating clinical trials that attempt to demonstrate the value of omega-3 fats and fish oil for human health.

Sources: de Lorgeril M, Salen P et al. Recent findings on the health effects of omega-3 fatty acids and statins, and their interactions: do statins inhibit omega-3? BMC Med., 2013, Jan 4 ;11(1):5.] and GreenMedInfo.com.

 

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 2, April/May 2014.

 

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