I spend a significant time last summer destroying the nonsensical study published by Dr Brasky in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Eventually a few other headline came out debunking the study but much to my chagrin it is still being circulated as if it was “news”.
Long before the above study came out I noted what I called an “Anti-Fish Oil Campaign” by traditional medicine. Big Pharma was tacitly involved but because they have and continue to try to get drug versions of fish oil accepted they were quieter than usual.
Now I am not a huge believer in conspiracy theories. It takes a long time to convince me that there are deliberate disingenuous forces at work trying to obfuscate the truth. Another way of saying that is that people are lying!
But when stuff like following comes out I am far more easily convinced:
1) Last year and just about every year before a study comes out that states that fish oil does not work for heart disease. The usual suspects are at work which includes- high powered big name institutions that are routinely tapped by drug companies for approval and research and gifted with grants from same. These are the places that are usually featured in the most prominent “high impact” journals. They are high impact usually because they are high circulation and high funded by you guessed it –drug ads. Also the usual suspects: inferior fish oil format like triglyceride or cod so only 30% of the active ingredients are Omega3’s. Relatively higher amounts of toxins. Almost always inferior dosing well below the ranges I recommend. And finally no attempt to look at Omega6/3 ratios either before or after the end points of the study.
2) My favorite “no good for heart disease study” was done by adding 1 gram of fish oil to margarine for 6 months to the diets of people who were already on at least 4 drugs for heart disease and had their heart disease for a minimum of 5 years, many of them 10. If you look at what I said in #1 and apply it to this study you will see it failed to meet any of the criteria for a successful study. In my blog “Fish oil Failure by Design” I go into more detail.
3) Fish oil no good for Alzheimer Disease. This wonderful study used low dose DHA only and again failed all of the above study criteria. Reminder: DHA is not fish oil; it is one half of fish oil. EPA is converted to DHA in the brain and in the body’s cell membranes and is a major source of DHA. If you remove it you will in effect be removing a large source of DHA that feeding straight DHA will not make up.
4) The infamous Brasky prostate cancer study was one of the most poorly designed studies ever and would never have been allowed in any journal except that it made a statement that was exciting controversial and “bad news”. I am shocked that the editors of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute allowed it to hit print. I go over the numerous flaws in that study in several blogs. What was most disturbing was how many bright people including scientists called or emailed me in fear and panic mode. These are people who know how to read studies but like so many people never bothered. They saw the internet headline and reacted.
So why does this happen and why is fish oil the target?
Why did the most recent meta analysis of 70+ randomized studies all of which showed a positive result on blood pressure in humans get eclipsed by a mouse study that suggested that DHA (again mislabeled fish oil) might raise blood pressure in mice who do not even have the same Omega 3 metabolism as humans do?
This friend is the news media mainly. They have figured out that lots of people can’t resist bad news. Shocking horrifying and generally irrelevant in terms of your life- that is what sells.
And so if they attack a known healthy habit and sow the seeds of discontent readership goes up and advertising dollars go up with it. After all who wants to advertise somewhere where no one reads looks or pays attention?
Sadly this “emotional control fear based” approach seems never to fail and always to win.
So as long as it does you can expect more negatives about fish oil and supplements in general. Taken along with the slow decline of Big Pharma and the erosion of trust people have in medicine as its practiced here in general you can see the value of negative headlines to the people in money and power.
Keep this in mind as you watch the current debate on labeling GMO food heat up. Big Food has wheeled out the big gun scientists in white coats. Their mantra: Trust us, we’re doctors!
I will let you decide where to place your trust.
In the meantime, don’t forget your fish oil.
PS a recent Survey of internet headlines on Omega 3’s and fish oil spanning the past 3 years has shown 80% of the headlines have been negative. If you survey the actual research it is 96% positive. Again you decide!