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Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease—Is It Just a Fish Tale?  Comment on “Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements (Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid) in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease”

Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD; JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH
Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(9):694-696. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.463.
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Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most extensively studied nutrients for their potential cardiovascular benefits. There are 2 major classes of omega-3 fatty acids. The first is α-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid derived from plant sources, such as flaxseed, walnut, soybean, and canola oils. The second class includes long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are derived primarily from fatty fish. α-Linolenic acid can be converted to EPA and DHA in the human body, although the efficiency of such conversions seems to be low.1 A large body of evidence from experimental, clinical, and epidemiologic research has demonstrated the potential benefits of EPA-rich and DHA-rich fish oil on cardiovascular health.2 In addition, consistent findings from prospective observational cohort investigations indicate that regular consumption of fatty fish (≥2 times per week) is associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular death.3

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