NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 26, 2006

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, says Yahoo News. 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.

Some research has suggested they may actually boost the risk of atrial fibrillation in certain people, such as those younger than 60.

  • In a new study, 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.
  • It's possible that omega-3 fatty acids may actually promote the development of atrial fibrillation in younger people but prevent it in older people who have other medical conditions, says study author Anthony Aizer, an electrophysiologist at New York University Medical Center.

Aizer acknowledged that the study didn't rely on "gold standard" methods, such as double-blind, placebo-controlled research. So, it is possible that another unknown factor could explain the rise in atrial fibrillation cases seen in study participants.

Source: Randy Dotinga, "Fish Consumption Linked to Heart Abnormality," Yahoo News, May 18, 2006.


Browse more articles on Health Issues