Sioux Falls, SD-A new article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a low omega-3 index (O3I) is as powerful a predictor of early death as smoking.

The result comes from data from the Framingham Study, one of the longest-running studies in the world, which provided insights into risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and developed the Framingham risk score based on eight standard Risk factors resulted: age, gender, smoking, hypertension treatment, diabetes status, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

Several of these factors, according to an OmegaQuant press release, can be influenced by diet. An important nutrition-based biomarker: fatty acids. The fatty acids most clearly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a reduced risk of all-cause mortality are the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

A 2018 report that included 2,500 participants in the Framingham descendant cohort followed over a median of 7.3 years. The EPA and DHA levels of red blood cells – the O3I – were significant and inversely related to the risk of death from all causes. People with the highest O3I were 33% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease in the follow-up years than those with the lowest O3I.

Similar connections were found in the Memory Study of the Women’s Health Initiative, the Heart and Soul Study and the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study.

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An optimal O3I is 8% or higher; an intermediate O3I is between 4-8%; and a low O3I is 4% and below. Most Americans have an O3I below 4%, according to the press release.

“It is interesting to note that in Japan, where the average omega-3 index is above 8%, the expected lifespan is about five years longer than in the United States, where the average omega-3 index is about 5% . Therefore, in practice, dietary choices that alter the omega-3 index can make life longer, ”said Michael McBurney, Ph.D., FCNS-SCN, lead researcher on this study. “In the final combined model, smoking and the omega-3 index appear to be the most easily modifiable risk factors. A current smoker (aged 65) is likely to subtract more than four years of life (compared to not smoking), a life shortening that corresponds to a low vs. a high omega-3 index. “

“The information contained in the levels of the four red blood cell fatty acids was as useful in predicting all-cause mortality as the information on lipid levels, blood pressure, smoking and diabetes,” said Dr. Bill Harris, founder of OmegaQuant and Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI), who was also the author of this study. “This speaks to the strength of the Omega-3 index as a risk factor and should be seen as just as important as the other established risk factors, maybe even more so.”

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