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High intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce venous thromboembolism risk

May 7, 2014

A new study from Norway suggests that a consumption of omega-3 fatty acid-rich oily fish at least three times per week and/or fish oil supplements may reduce the risk of developing a blood clot in a vein.

The observational study registered the weekly intake of fish for dinner and the intake of fish oil supplements of 23,621 persons aged between 25 and 97 years, and documented the incident of venous thromboembolism (VTE) over 15 years (1). The study results showed that participants with high fish consumption (three or more times a week) had a 22% lower risk of developing VTE than those who consumed fish 1–1.9 times per week. The addition of fish oil supplements strengthened this effect: Participants who consumed fish at least three times a week and who additionally used fish oil supplements had a 48% lower VTE risk than those who consumed fish 1–1.9 times a week but did not use fish oil supplements.

The researchers commented experimental studies have indicated that the preventive effect of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish and fish oil supplements on cardiovascular diseases, reported in several studies, may be mediated by the antiarrhythmic, antithrombotic, and LDL cholesterol lowering properties of the essential fatty acids (2). The antithrombotic effect of omega-3 fatty acids, however, may be counteracted by high intake of saturated fat. Earlier cohort studies on a potential link between fish or fish oil supplement intake and the risk of VTE have shown conflicting results. Generally low frequencies of fish servings per week, no monitoring of additional omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, and lack of validation of self-reported fish intake may all contribute to the varying results, the researchers added.

References

  1. Hansen-Krone I. J. et al. High Fish plus Fish Oil Intake Is Associated with Slightly Reduced Risk of Venous Thromboembolism: The Tromsø Study. The Journal of Nutrition. Published online April 2014.
  2. Mozaffarian D. and Wu J. H. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: effects on risk factors, molecular pathways, and clinical events. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011; 58:2047–2067.