July 13, 2007/Cardiovascular Device Liability Week -- People with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, mothers and children, and those at risk of age-related diseases may particularly benefit from consuming omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oils (marine omega-3s), according to new research summarized in the June 2007 Fats of Life e-newsletter for consumers and PUFA Newsletter for health professionals.

In the JELIS Study from Japan, researchers compared the effect of adding eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the major omega-3s in fish oil, to cholesterol-lowering statin drug treatment with statin treatment alone in more than 18,000 men and women with high cholesterol and triglycerides. All were at increased risk of coronary artery disease. At the end of 4-1/2 years, patients consuming EPA had 19% fewer major coronary events, 19% fewer non-fatal coronary episodes and 24% less heart spasms than patients taking only statins.

"As shown in many other studies of fish oil, EPA reduced the chance of risky coronary events in patients with heart disease," said Joyce Nettleton, DSc, editor of Fats of Life and the PUFA Newsletter. "For this reason, the omega-3s in fish are considered important for the secondary prevention of heart disease."

Japanese investigators also found that marine omega-3s are good candidates for improving blood vessel function in type 2 diabetics, deterring the onset of heart disease.

"With regular check-ups, diabetic patients can obtain the heart and circulatory system benefits of fish oil without compromising their diabetes status," Nettleton noted.

Other new research reports that mothers who regularly consume fish in pregnancy may reduce their child's chance of developing eczema, a skin condition caused by allergies. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who took omega-3 supplements had significant improvements in inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. These results support the case for including fish oils in the treatment of ADHD.

Moreover, recent studies showed that the higher a person's omega-3 status, the lower the chance of poorer psychological assessments and of developing Alzheimer's disease or advanced age-related macular degeneration. Marine omega-3s were also effective in increasing bone mineral density in young men. Boosting one's omega-3 status may help protect the heart, mind and body.

From the July 16, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash