Fish Oil and Vitamin D May Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer, But Only in Some

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In a large study evaluating the effects of vitamin D and omega-3 (fish oil) supplements on heart disease and cancer risk in healthy adults, researchers found they have few benefits, except possibly for specific groups — including African Americans. The study was led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago.

The research effort involved 25,871 healthy men and women over age 50, including 5,106 African Americans. Study participants were divided into four groups and randomly assigned to take:

  • 2,000 IUs (international units) of vitamin D3 and 1 gram (gm) of omega-3 daily
  • 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 and an omega-3 placebo daily
  • 1 gm of omega-3s and a vitamin D3 placebo daily
  • Vitamin D3 and omega-3 placebos daily

More research is needed to explore some of the study’s positive findings, including:

  • 28 percent lower risk for heart attack (but not stroke)
  • 77 percent lower heart attack risk in African Americans in those taking fish oil supplements
  • reduction in cancer deaths in those taking vitamin D supplements for more than two years

Sourced from: New England Journal of Medicine