Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
New England Journal of Medicine Fish Oil Fiasco

New England Journal of Medicine Fish Oil Fiasco


Hi, this is Dr. Ronald Hoffman. You know, I
subscribe to the New England Journal of Medicine in hopes that I’ll glean
something that’s relevant for my practice and just to keep up on medical
advances. I get discouraged though because often the articles are kind of
obscure like this one, PD-1 Blockade Induced Pruritus Treated with a New
Opioid Receptor Antagonist. Hmm, sounds like an expensive new drug. But this week
I was really cheered when I glanced at the cover of the New England Journal of
Medicine and I saw an article entitled Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Supplements in Diabetes Mellitus. Finally something of relevance to my nutritional
practice. So I opened it up with great anticipation and I looked at the
study, and what I found was incredibly disappointing. It’s amazing that this
study actually got accepted by a peer review of the New England Journal
of Medicine and got published in this distinguished,
high-impact journal. Because just looking at it it’s extraordinarily poorly
designed. Well first of all, they conclude in this study that omega-3
supplementation fails to prevent heart disease in this cohort of individuals
with diabetes. And so, you know, you kind of have to look in the materials and
methods and see how they demonstrated this. What they did is they gave half of
the participants in this study, there were over 15,000 patients — this is a big
study, one gram capsules of fish oil once a day. We know that that’s a wholly
inadequate dosage. And so this study does not demonstrate that fish oil does not
prevent cardiovascular disease. In fact it flies in the face of a recent study
that I talked about in a recent video that demonstrated that
a synthetic fish oil, of course this is going to be a prescription drug, and a
dosage that was adequate, four grams per day, instead of just one measly one gram
pill per day, dramatically reduced cardiovascular risk by 25 percent.
There’s another problem with this study. They used as a placebo, you know you got to use like a sugar pill when it’s a medication, but when it’s fish oil, you can’t use a sugar pill because you gotta have something that’s an oil containing
capsule as a placebo. So what did they use as a placebo to match up with fish oil
something supposedly inert that fish oil might stand out as greater in its
effects? They used olive oil capsules. So what this study basically did is showed
that an inconsequential amount of fish oil was no better and no worse that an
inconsequential amount of olive oil in terms of preventing cardiovascular
disease. But the olive oil actually might have reduced cardiovascular risk to some
extent just like the inadequate amount of fish oil. But you’ll never know
because of the poor study design, and here it is accepted into the New England
Journal of Medicine. You know, New England Journal of Medicine, I’m really strongly
considering canceling my subscription after this fiasco. I’m Dr. Ronald Hoffman
and this is Intelligent Medicine.

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