Meta-analysis links increased omega-3 to a reduced risk of premature mortality

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A meta-analysis reported on June 16, 2016, in the Nature journal Scientific Reports adds evidence to an association of greater intake or blood levels of long chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids with a lower risk of mortality from any cause over follow-up.

Guo-Chong Chen of Soochow University in China and colleagues selected 11 prospective studies involving 371,965 men and women for their analysis. Excluded studies involved those with subjects who had type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and kidney disease. Seven studies examined the association between omega-3 fatty acid intake and mortality over follow-up and four analyzed the association between the risk of mortality and blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The studies documented 31,185 deaths over follow-up periods that ranged from five to 30.7 years.

Subjects whose omega-3 fatty acid intake was among the highest were 9% less likely to die on average over follow-up compared with those whose intake was among the lowest. Each 300 milligram per day increase in EPA and DHA was associated with a 6% lower risk of mortality from all causes. When studies that examined circulating levels were analyzed, each 1% increment in the proportion of EPA or DHA in total blood fatty acids was associated with a 20% or 21% lower risk of death, respectively. "This meta-analysis of prospective observational studies suggests that both dietary and circulating omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are significantly inversely associated with risk of all-cause mortality," the authors conclude.

"The meta-analysis of 11 prospective observational studies demonstrates that each 1% increment of omega-3s in total fatty acids in blood may be associated with a 20% decrease in risk of all-cause mortality," noted coauthor Manfred Eggersdorfer. "This is an important finding for the potential contribution of adequate omega-3 intake to public health."


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