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Experts report a new life-threatening consequence of low levels of fatty acid even greater than smoking

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Low levels of fatty acid or commonly known as omega-3 deficiency may reduce your life even more than smoking, warns new study.

The researchers discovered that smoking cut life expectancy by four years, while Omega3 deficiency or low levels of the fatty acid — present in oily seafood like salmon and mackerel — cut it by five years.

The oil is recognised to be beneficial to the heart and to help prevent blood clots.

A good level is eight per cent or higher, intermediate is between four and eight per cent and low is four per cent and below. 

Eight percent or more is considered a good sign, an intermediate level is four to eight percent, and a poor level is four percent or less.

Dr. Michael McBurney of the University of Guelph in Canada, who led the study, stated:

It is interesting to note that in Japan, where the mean Omega-3 Index is greater than eight per cent, the expected life span is around five years longer than it is in the United States, where the mean Omega-3 Index is about five per cent. 

Hence, in practice, dietary choices that change the Omega-3 Index may prolong life. 

In the final combined model, smoking and the Omega-3 Index seem to be the most easily modified risk factors. 

Being a current smoker, at age 65, is predicted to subtract more than four years of life, compared with not smoking, a life shortening equivalent to having a low vs. a high Omega-3 Index.

The research paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, utilized data sets from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), one of the world’s longest-running studies. 

The Framingham Heart Study provided unique insights into cardiovascular disease risk factors, leading to the creation of the Framingham Risk Score, which is based on eight standard risk factors: age, sex, smoking, hypertension treatment, diabetes status, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol (TC), and HDL cholesterol.

The researchers discovered that monitoring fatty acids might predict death in the same way as conventional risk variables did.

Dr. Bill Harris, President of the Fatty Acid Research Institute and a co-author, said:

The information carried in the concentrations of four red blood cell fatty acids was as useful as that carried in lipid levels, blood pressure, smoking, and diabetic status with regard to predicting total mortality. 

This speaks to the power of the Omega-3 Index as a risk factor and should be considered just as important as the other established risk factors, and maybe even more so. 

Diet, cigarettes, alcohol, and physical inactivity are all risk factors that may be minimised.

The study’s authors found that lifestyle choices may assist identify individuals who are at risk.

It may potentially be used to prevent illness, postpone death, and evaluate treatment options.  

Image Credit: Getty

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