A team of scientists from the US Fatty Acid Research Institute has identified that the higher the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the body, the lower the risk of premature death.
The study included the analyzes of some 42,000 people from different countries. This found that those with a higher index of eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids had up to 13% lower risk of suffering a premature death compared to those whose levels were lower.
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According to the study published in Nature Communications, patients with a deficiency of these acids were more likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular disease and other causes.
Scientists have been investigating the relationship between omega-3 levels and diseases that affect the heart, brain, joints, and eyes for years, but few have studied the possible impact of fatty acids on longevity.
The study focused on omega-3 levels and the risk for death during the follow-up period, and it is the largest study yet to do so.
Specifically, this report is a prospective analysis of pooled data from 17 separate cohorts from around the world, including 42,466 people followed for 16 years on average during which time 15,720 people died.
When researchers examined the risk for death from any cause, the people who had the highest EPA DHA levels (i.e., at the 90th percentile) had a statistically significant, 13 percent lower risk for death than people with EPA DHA levels in the 10th percentile.
When they looked at three major causes of death – cardiovascular disease, cancer and all other causes combined – they found statistically significant risk reductions (again comparing the 90th vs 10th percentile) of 15 per cent, 11 per cent, and 13 per cent, respectively.
The range between the 10th and 90th percentile for EPA DHA was (in terms of red blood cell membrane omega-3 levels, i.e., the Omega-3 Index) about 3.5 percent to 7.6 percent. From other research, an optimal Omega-3 Index is 8 percent or higher.
“Since all of these analyses were statistically adjusted for multiple personal and medical factors (i.e., age, sex, weight, smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, etc., plus blood omega-6 fatty acid levels), we believe that these are the strongest data published to date supporting the view that over the long-term, having higher blood omega-3 levels can help maintain better overall health,” says Dr Bill Harris, Founder of the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI), and lead author on this research.
This study has confirmed that the omega-3s found in fish and shellfish can have beneficial effects on general health and consequently can slow the aging process.