Yes, I admit that I’m cynical by nature. (Though perhaps I’ve also just been in the business too long.) But it’s funny how, now that Big Pharma has a patented fish oil on the market, all sorts of good news keeps coming out about omega-3 supplementation.
Still, whatever the reason for the sudden spotlight, this is definitely a case of “better late than never.” And I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t pleased to see the naysayers finally coming around where fish oil is concerned.
So, let’s talk about some of the latest findings…
It’s all about the EPA
You may recall the results of the REDUCE-IT trial, which I shared with you back in 2018.
It found that icosapent ethyl—which is Big Pharma’s version of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—at a dosage of four grams daily slashed risk of cardiovascular events by more than 25 percent over nearly five years of follow-up.
Prior to this finding, icosapent ethyl had been an approved treatment for high triglycerides. (Which, as you’ll also recall, is something statin drugs can’t treat—even though these fats are the biggest threat to your heart’s health.)
So understandably, researchers just assumed this was where fish oil’s benefits came from. But, it’s not quite so simple.
Sure, there were changes in triglyceride levels among subjects. (Along with a number of other heart risk factors—like LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels, as well as inflammatory markers like apoB and C-reactive protein [CRP].)
But ultimately, these factors accounted for a mere two percent of the total 25 percent reduction in risk.
In other words, the benefits of this patented, high-strength EPA were in its ability to raise blood levels of this fatty acid… not in its ability to lower levels of triglycerides, cholesterol, or CRP.
And I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.
Rethinking daily dosages
The heart health benefits of fish oil appear to be almost entirely tied to an increase of EPA in the body. This is exactly why I always test my Medicare patients for these levels.
In fact, I used to do it for all of my patients. But the testing company was charging patients with commercial insurance an outrageous amount of money to deliver those results. (Unfortunately, a typical American response—chasing money over the health and well-being of people.)
It’s a real shame—because as this research shows, high-dose EPA can make a serious clinical difference. Not only by preventing cardiovascular events, but by preventing heart-related death, and even all-cause mortality.
Ultimately, results showed a strong and significant relationship between blood levels of EPA and risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attack and stroke, risk of coronary revascularization, and risk of hospitalization for angina. And this was true whether patients had existing heart disease, diabetes, or other risk factors.
Taking icosapent ethyl raised patients’ EPA levels fourfold. And unsurprisingly, these study authors were quick to point out that you can’t expect the same result from eating fish or using any other fish oil product.
But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: There’s absolutely no reason to expect otherwise, assuming you’re taking a high enough dose.
In fact, I’m going to reassess my own stance on EPA/DHA due to these trial results. I have always recommended three grams (3,000 mg) of EPA/DHA daily for my patients. But it may be time to up those recommendations.
When, and if, I do come to any new conclusions on the subject, you’ll be the first to hear them—right here in my Reality Health Check, or in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter.
In the meantime, we know that DHA has its own benefits, too. (It could be that we just have to target patients differently with our recommendations. And really, isn’t that what smart medicine is all about?) So, keep taking your high-quality, pure fish oil supplements daily. They’re available without a prescription… and at a fraction of the price.
P.S. For more information on natural ways to protect your heart, check out my Ultimate Heart Protection Protocol. This innovative, online learning tool features an all-natural plan to prevent and reverse America’s biggest killers—high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. To learn more, or to enroll today, click here now!
“REDUCE-IT: CV Benefit of Icosapent Ethyl Directly Related to EPA Levels.” Medscape Medical News, 04/02/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/928019)