The researchers did find a small reduction in cardiovascular death risk. However, that benefit disappeared when the researchers excluded a study they felt had major scientific problems.
Two large studies published in the past reported a positive effect of supplements on cardiovascular health, Myung said. "But those trials did not use placebos [for comparison]," Myung explained
Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association, said he, too, is not surprised by the findings.
"The bottom line is for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease it looks like we can say having oily fish two or three times a week is good but replacing that fish with supplements doesn't replace the beneficial effects," said Tomaselli, director of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The American Heart Association recommends that those without known heart disease eat a variety of fish, preferably oily fish, at least twice a week. It advises those with heart disease to eat about 1 gram of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA a day.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Drs. Frank Hu and JoAnn Manson, from the Harvard School of Public Health, pointed out that a diet high in fatty fish could help people replace less healthy sources of protein, such as red meat.
For those who don't like fish, they suggest eating plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed, walnut, soybean and canola oils.
To learn more about omega-3 fatty acids, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Seung-Kwon Myung, M.D. specialist and chief of the Carcinogenesis Branch, National Cancer Center, Republic of Korea; Archives of Internal Medicine, online April 9, 2012; Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., president of the American Heart As
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