Fishy business over omega-3 study
Like fish stories? Well then, I've got a whopper of a tale for you today.
A 24-year study of some 68,000 patients finds that fish oil is no better than a placebo at protecting the heart -- and if that's all you read, it sure looks bad for fish oil.
But here's the thing: The "study" as described above -- and in the media -- doesn't actually exist.
What does exist is a meta-analysis, or an attempt to create what seems like one big study out of data from a bunch of smaller studies.
Done well, a meta-analysis can actually be useful. Done poorly, and it's like smashing together a bunch of hamburger and claiming it's a cow -- and I'll let you guess which one we got this time around.
They've smashed together studies on healthy patients, studies on unhealthy patients, studies on patients who took meds with their fish oil, and studies on patients who took no meds, etc. etc. etc.
It's the worst hodgepodge of data I've ever seen -- such a mess I have to wonder how they managed to reach any kind of conclusion at all. Certainly, some innocent numbers were water-boarded before it was all over.
And don't be impressed by the phrase "24-year study" being tossed around carelessly. Makes it sound like the patients took fish oil or a placebo for 24 years, right?
Wrong -- try a median of just two years. The "24" refers only to the fact that the studies were published over the last 24 years.
Those aren't the only problems with the study, just the ones I can fit in this email.
If you want to know the truth about fish oil, look at the other studies on this -- including a much better meta-analysis that found omega-3 fatty acids can cut the risk of an early death by 28 percent.
Another study, published in 2010, found that 1 gram of fish oil a day can prevent death in heart failure patients.
And those aren't the only reasons to keep taking your fish oil. I've got more coming up next. Keep reading!