CORVALLIS, Ore. A new review suggests that omega-3 fatty acids taken in excess could have unintended health consequences in certain situations, and that dietary standards based on the best available evidence need to be established.
"What looked like a slam dunk a few years ago may not be as clear cut as we thought," said Norman Hord, associate professor in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences and a coauthor on the paper.
"We are seeing the potential for negative effects at really high levels of omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Because we lack valid biomarkers for exposure and knowledge of who might be at risk if consuming excessive amounts, it isn't possible to determine an upper limit at this time."
Previous research led by Michigan State University's Jenifer Fenton and her collaborators found that feeding mice large amounts of dietary omega-3 fatty acids led to increased risk of colitis and immune alteration. Those results were published in Cancer Research in 2010.
As a follow-up, published online in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids, Fenton and her co-authors, including Hord, reviewed the literature and discuss the potential adverse health outcomes that could result from excess consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies have shown that omega-3s, also known as long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), are associated with lower risk of sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular disease outcomes.
"We were inspired to review the literature based on our findings after recent publications showed increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and atrial fibrillation in those with high blood levels of LCPUFAs," Fenton said.
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which is one of the reasons they can be beneficial to heart health and inflammatory issues. However, the researchers said excess amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can alte
|Contact: Norman Hord|
Oregon State University