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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fish Oil

     I was once asked, “You do take fish oil, don't you?” The way the question was put made me feel a little guilty because I didn't, so I started taking it, but not for long. The reason? You'll see, keep reading. 
     The use of fish oil started being hyped in the 1970s when scientists started speculating that the Eskimos of Greenland had lower rates of heart attacks than their neighbors in Denmark because their diet was rich in whale blubber and seal meat. 
     Fish oil is sometimes used after heart transplant surgery to prevent high blood pressure and kidney damage that can be caused by the surgery itself or by drugs used to reduce the chances that the body will reject the new heart. Fish oil is also sometimes used after coronary artery bypass surgery. It seems to help keep the blood vessel that has been rerouted from closing up. 
     When it comes to eating fish way the fish is prepared makes a difference. Broiled or baked fish is good. Fried fish or fish sandwiches may actually increase heart disease risk. 
      Some reasons people eat a lot of fish (or take fish oil) are: depression, psychosis, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration diabetes, asthma, developmental coordination disorders, movement disorders, dyslexia, obesity kidney disease, osteoporosis, psoriasis and preventing weight loss caused by some cancer drugs. Women sometimes take fish oil to prevent painful periods; breast pain; and complications associated with pregnancy such as miscarriage, high blood pressure late in pregnancy, and early delivery.  That's just to name a few.
     Today scientists are still studying the fats found in fish and the research over the last two decades has focused on people who already had heart disease or multiple risk factors. The benefits appeared to be a decrease in blood clotting, lowering of triglyceride levels, and anti-arrhythmic and anti-inflammation qualities, all of which appear to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease stroke, and possibly, some forms of cancer. 
     The scientific evidence suggests that fish oil really does lower high triglycerides and it also may help prevent heart disease and stroke when taken in the recommended amounts. Ironically, taking too much fish oil can actually increase the risk of stroke
     Another downside: a study by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington linked eating a lot of oily fish or taking potent fish oil supplements to a 43% increased risk for prostate cancer overall, and a 71% increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer. If you are a male that should be enough to make you want to avoid fish oil right there. They came to this conclusion by looking at blood samples of men taking part in the study found that selenium supplements did nothing to prevent prostate cancer and vitamin E supplements slightly increased prostate cancer risk. 
     Fish oil can be obtained from eating fish or by taking supplements. Fish that are especially rich in the oils known as omega-3 fatty acids are mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden. Fish oil supplements are usually made from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber. 
     Fish oil supplements often contain small amounts of vitamin E to prevent spoilage. They might also be other vitamins and minerals. 
     One must be aware that high doses of fish oil might possibly affect the immune system and so reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. It also has some adverse side effects such as belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. 
     The fact is taking large amounts of fish oil from some dietary supplements can be unsafe. People with liver disease have an increased risk of bleeding, people who are allergic to seafood might also be allergic to the supplements. In the case of bipolar disorder fish oil might increase some of the symptoms and it can increase the symptoms of depression. There is some concern that taking high doses of fish oil might make the control of blood sugar more difficult in people with diabetes. For people on blood pressure medication it is possible that it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. HIV/AIDS and other conditions in which the immune system response is lowered the body’s immune system response can be made worse. Fish oil might increase the risk of irregular heartbeat in patients with an implanted defibrillator. Birth control pills interact with fish oil. 
     Another reason not to take fish oil... fish oil capsules are frequently rancid. Researchers at New Zealand’s Crop and Food Research Institute tested capsules from many different brands from countries all over the world and discovered that a majority of the capsules they tested had begun to go bad.  Rancid fish oil does not benefit those who take it and may actually cause harm. Health risks associated with rancid fish oil include increased risk of hardening of the arteries and increased blood clotting.  Is taking fish oil supplements really worth the risks?

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