The Failure of Fish Oil

The Failure of Fish Oil

Mar 23rd 2023

This is derived from a paper written by Professor Brian Peskin and was online in April 2012. The conversations about why fish oils fail needs a bit of refresher. Read the entire study here.

First, you need to know where the entire “we need fish and fish oil” nonsense came from. Eskimos have less CVD than most other populations (although they have other ailments and often suffer horrible skin) so it was assumed that the lower CVD was from fish consumption. These investigators made a common mistake. They didn’t look at their entire diet. Far from fish being the primary food, Eskimos rely more on mammal protein like seal, whale, caribou, bear, muskoxen, birds and their eggs. Incredibly, the initial investigation chose to focus only on the fish component in the Eskimo’s diet. This mistake is causing millions of Americans and others around the world to be overdosed with this toxic substance.

Following will be the common refrain from the majority in the health/nutrition field, who for the most part, have a vested interest in promoting the fish oil myth:

1. Studies reviewed were of relatively “short duration.” 

Apparently, a few YEARS is not long enough. How long do you need to take an effective supplement to see a benefit? Ten years, twenty years, 150 years?

The IOWA experiment showed incredible results in reversing heart disease — increasing arterial compliance making the arteries more flexible—reversing “hardening of the arteries.” And this was accomplished in less than one year.

2. Patient population was skewed to males in their mid sixties. The participants already had heart and/or stroke issues that were undetected. 

Wouldn’t a high-risk population be the ideal population to use? They are at greatest risk, so logic would suggest they would also be most sensitive to any positive changes. The males in their sixties are tantamount to the canaries in the mines with respect to heart disease and stroke. Again, the IOWA experiment clearly shows reversal of heart disease in nearly everyone without regard to age or pre-existing condition. 

3. Need a larger, longer-term study to have meaningful results. 

I guess 20,000+ participants is not enough If the supplement were effective wouldn’t it be obvious in a group far smaller than 20,000 people. The IOWA experiment was so strong with less than 20 people that the statistics showed the confidence level was 99.85% and an NNT<3 — meaning you can take the results “to the bank.” You require huge numbers of patients when the intervention is a failure so random chance may give the illusion of success. 

4. Supplements are different than eating the natural product (fish). 

While this is certainly true, logic would suggest that if their was a real benefit from eating fish one would derive that benefit, to some degree, by taking concentrated doses (through supplementation) of fish. You need to know that eating fish with the LEAST OIL — gives significantly better results, proving “parent” EFAs with fully functional omega-6 are much more important than overdosing on omega-3 or its derivatives.

5. Lifestyle is what matters. 

Other, unknown variables have influenced the results of this meta-study. This is always true in a study and especially a meta-study. All studies are plagued by unknown variables, but if fish oil were at least on the right track there should be some measurable benefit. The IOWA experiment had no restrictions on the participants. In spite of this, the results were amazing.

The authors of this meta study got it right — “To date, there is no conclusive evidence to recommend fish oil supplementation for primary or secondary prevention of CVD.” — It’s time to discard fish oil and adopt a rational approach to EFA supplementation.