Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: The Way Forward in Times of Mixed Evidence

Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:143109. doi: 10.1155/2015/143109. Epub 2015 Aug 2.

Abstract

Almost forty years ago, it was first hypothesized that an increased dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) from fish fat could exert protective effects against several pathologies. Decades of intense preclinical investigation have supported this hypothesis in a variety of model systems. Several clinical cardiovascular studies demonstrated the beneficial health effects of omega-3 PUFA, leading medical institutions worldwide to publish recommendations for their increased intake. However, particularly in recent years, contradictory results have been obtained in human studies focusing on cardiovascular disease and the clinical evidence in other diseases, particularly chronic inflammatory and neoplastic diseases, was never established to a degree that led to clear approval of treatment with omega-3 PUFA. Recent data not in line with the previous findings have sparked a debate on the health efficacy of omega-3 PUFA and the usefulness of increasing their intake for the prevention of a number of pathologies. In this review, we aim to examine the controversies on the possible use of these fatty acids as preventive/curative tools against the development of cardiovascular, metabolic, and inflammatory diseases, as well as several kinds of cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fish Oils / metabolism
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors

Substances

  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils