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Invited Commentary
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May 14, 2012

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”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Nutrition (Dr Hu) and Epidemiology (Drs Hu and Manson), Harvard School of Public Health, and Channing Laboratory (Dr Hu) and Division of Preventive Medicine (Dr Manson), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(9):694-696. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.463

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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