Harvard Researchers; Fish Oils reduce the risk of developing fatal ventricular arrhythmias, fatal coronary heart disease, and sudden cardiac death

July 02, 2008

     Researchers from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Department of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health feel strongly about fish oils. Large observational studies, randomized clinical trials, and experimental studies have evaluated the effects of fish and n-3 fatty acid consumption on fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and sudden cardiac death (SCD), clinically defined events that most often share the final common pathway of fatal ventricular arrhythmia. These different study designs provide strong concordant evidence that modest consumption of fish or fish oil (1-2 servings per week of oily fish, or approximately 250 mg/day of EPA+DHA) substantially reduces the risk of CHD death and SCD.

     Pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized clinical trials demonstrates the magnitude and dose-response of this effect, with a 36% lowered risk of CHD death comparing the difference between 0 mg/day vs. 250 mg/day of EPA+DHA consumption. Reductions in risk are even larger in observational studies utilizing tissue biomarkers of Fish Oil fatty acids that more accurately measure dietary consumption. The strength and consistency of the evidence and the magnitude of this effect is each notable. Because more than one-half of all CHD deaths and two-thirds of SCD occur among individuals without recognized heart disease, modest consumption of fish or Fish Oil supplements, together with smoking cessation and regular moderate physical activity, should be among the first-line treatments for prevention of CHD death and SCD. The study is published in the June 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

New finding links pollution to childhood allergies

     German researchers say they have found some of the strongest evidence yet linking traffic pollution to childhood allergies. The risk of developing asthma, hay fever, eczema or other allergies is about 50 percent higher for children living 50 yards from a busy road than for those living 1,000 yards away according to their results released on Friday.

Joachim Heinrich, an epidemiologist at the Helmholtz Research Centre for Environment and Health in Munich who led the study states "We consistently found strong associations between the distance to the nearest main road and the allergic disease outcomes,"

     The study followed 3,000 healthy children from all over Munich for six years from birth to determine rates of allergy-related diseases and exposure to traffic pollution.

The researchers mapped each residential address and the distance to busy roads, then developed a model to calculate exposure to pollution at birth and age two, three and six.

A busy road was considered one used by 10,000 cars each day. "We developed a model to predict air pollution concentration at one point in a metropolitan area," Heinrich said in a telephone interview. This allowed the researchers to monitor more than one site as well as follow a large group of children over a long period of time, things many other studies did not do, Heinrich said.

     The researchers will continue monitoring the children over the next few years to determine whether moving to a less-polluted area can reverse any of the traffic pollution-related problems, he added. The study is published in the current issue of The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.