Fish Oils May Prevent and Treat Heart Disease

Another study now in the recruiting stage will test omega-3 fatty acids to prevent not only cardiovascular disease but also cancer, said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

She is a leader of the trial, which is now recruiting 10,000 men aged 60 and older and 10,000 women aged 65 and older. The researchers will test not only the effect of omega-3 fatty acids but also of vitamin D.

Both are "very promising nutrients in prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases," Manson said. In the five-year trial, a quarter of the participants will take both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, a quarter will take the vitamin, a quarter will take the fatty acids and a quarter will take a placebo.

Enthusiasts shouldn't anticipate the results of the trial and start taking large doses of omega-3 fatty acids, Manson warned. "It's too early to jump on the bandwagon and take megadoses, but moderate doses seem reasonable," she said.

More information

Get the official view of the value of omega-3 fatty acids from the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Carl J. Lavie, M.D., medical director, cardiac rehabilitation and prevention, Ochsner Clinic, New Orleans; JoAnn Manson, M.D., chief, preventive medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Aug. 11, 2009, Journal of the American College of Cardiology

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