Fish Fat Affects Heart's Electrical Function

HealthDay News is reporting Omega-3 fats might heighten the risk of potentially dangerous heart condition in some people. New research claims individuals who consume fish more than five times a week are 61 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. Randy Dotinga reports:

In recent years, many doctors have urged patients to eat oily fish—such as mackerel, herring, albacore tuna and salmon—or take fish oil supplements. Both contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to better recovery from heart disease and a lower risk in older people of atrial fibrillation, in which the heart's electrical system malfunctions, and the muscle fails to beat in an orderly fashion.

But it's not entirely clear that omega-3 fats are good for the general population without heart disease. And some research has suggested they may actually boost the risk of atrial fibrillation in certain people, such as those younger than 60.

In the new study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 17,700 U.S. male doctors who took part in the Physicians' Health Study. The men answered questions about their fish consumption in 1983 and were asked in 1998 if they had developed atrial fibrillation.

After adjusting the data to account for factors like existing heart disease, the researchers found that men who ate fish more than five times a week were 61 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, compared to those who ate fish once a month. In total, about 7 percent of all the men in the study said they developed the condition, which is somewhat common among the elderly but rarer among younger people.

First mercury contamination and now this! Fish is certainly earning an unsavory reputation. If you're alarmed by this research, remember Dr. Fuhrman's recommendation: Only eat lean fish like flounder, sole, or tilapia no more than once or twice a week.

Now, incase you think you're not getting enough Omega-3, consider another recommendation from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed everyday. This will give you those hard-to-find omega-3 fats that protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1 The body can manufacturer EPA and DHA from these omega-3 fats for those of us who do not consume fish. An additional source of omega-3 fat might be a few walnuts or soybeans. Edamame, those frozen green soybeans in the freezer of most health-food stores, taste great and are a rich source of omega-3 fat. A nutritional supplement containing DHA fat is also a good idea, especially for those who are poor DHA converters (which can be determined via a blood test). Vegetable-derived (from microalgae) DHA fat can be found in most health-food stores.

Dr. Fuhrman points out that his DHA Purity is not only a high grade, vegetable-derived DHA supplement (it's made from algae) but it is the only DHA available in America that is kept refrigerated for freshness since the day of manufacturing. Children and adults like the taste, too.

1. Simopoulos A. P. 1999. Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 70 (3): 560-69S.

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Helena - May 22, 2006 4:31 PM

If it are the omega 3 fatty acids that are the danger, wouldn't the DHA supplements have the same problem as eating fish?

mrtruth - June 1, 2006 1:52 PM

so, um, like, how did we humans manage to evolve and survive over the eons, eating all that harmful fish oil? it's pretty well known that we evolved on a diet that included a LOT of seafood, for those populations that lived near water.


Michael - June 23, 2006 1:05 PM

For eons, we didn't pollute to the level that we do now. That is the main difference. You are also confusing survival with maximizing health. Just because we ate a certain way for survival, doesn't mean it's the healthiest way to eat. We have the ability now to pick and choose the foods we consume, that wasn't the case in the past. We ate what was available in order to survive. It wasn't necessarily healthy, but the alternative was starvation.

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