FISH OILS: Can they really cause a stroke

One E-news reader was intrigued by last week’s story about fish and stroke prevention, and the passing mention that fish oil supplements could actually increase the risk of stroke.

The claim, made by researchers whose study we were quoting, seems to fly in the face of most everything we’ve been told, so who’s right?

We decided to dig a little deeper. On the face of it, the claim doesn’t seem to stack up. A major study, involving 80,000 women, found that those who regularly took fish oil supplements were far less likely to suffer stroke (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001; 285: 304-12).

However, a piece of research that seems to counter that finding was published two years earlier. That study found that anti-clotting agents in the oils were also more likely to increase the risk of haemorrhagic stroke. (Source: Lancet, 1999; 353: 812-3).

It’s an important point, and one that seems to have been overlooked in all the positive publicity about fish oil supplements.

Thanks go to the E-news reader who raised the query. If you have any feedback for us, such as a health issue you want addressing, or something you’d like to share with other readers, please let us know. Send us your messages to:

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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