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Investigators find something fishy with classical evidence for dietary fish recommendation
Date:5/1/2014

Philadelphia, PA, May 1, 2014 Oily fish are currently recommended as part of a heart healthy diet. This guideline is partially based on the landmark 1970s study from Bang and Dyerberg that connected the low incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD) among the Eskimos of Greenland to their diet, rich in whale and seal blubber. Now, researchers have found that Eskimos actually suffered from CAD at the same rate as their Caucasian counterparts, meaning there is insufficient evidence to back Bang and Dyerberg's claims. Their findings are published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Using 40 years of new information and research, a team of investigators set out to reexamine Bang and Dyerberg's study of Greenland Eskimos and CAD. This study is still widely cited today when recommending the dietary addition of fish oil supplements (like omega-3 fatty acids) or oily fish to help avoid cardiovascular problems. However, the new review of information has determined that Bang and Dyerberg failed to actually investigate the cardiovascular health of the Eskimo population, meaning that the cardioprotective effects of their diet are unsubstantiated.

"Bang and Dyerberg's seminal studies from the 1970s are routinely invoked as 'proof' of low prevalence of CAD in Greenland Eskimos ignoring the fact that these two Danish investigators did not study the prevalence of CAD," notes lead investigator George Fodor, MD, PhD, FRCPC, FAHA. "Instead, their research focused on the dietary habits of Eskimos and offered only speculation that the high intake of marine fats exerted a protective effect on coronary arteries."

Bang and Dyerberg relied mainly on annual reports produced by the Chief Medical Officer of Greenland to ascertain CAD deaths in the region. The 2014 study has identified a number of reasons that those records were likely insufficient, mainly that the rural and inaccessible nature of Greenland made it difficult for accurate records to be
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Contact: Eileen Leahy
cjcmedia@elsevier.com
732-238-3628
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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