Jacob Schor ND FABNO
June 8, 2009
The big study making news last fall was the Jupiter Trial. That was the gigantic study that monitored c-reactive protein in healthy people with normal cholesterol levels who took an outrageously expensive statin drug called. The drug lowered their c-reactive protein and in doing so cut their already low risk for having a heart attack in half.
The study was interesting of course from a marketing perspective. ‘Wow, we can justify selling an expensive cholesterol lowering drug to someone with cholesterol that doesn’t need lowering.’ The less gullible among us still found the study of interest as it demonstrated the value of checking c-reactive protein levels and lowering them if elevated.
We pointed out that there are a number of simple, inexpensive and safe ways to lower c-reactive protein. We need to add one more to the list. A study was published in April that suggests fish oils may lower c-reactive protein levels. To be honest the study falls short of actually proving this. The researchers measured and compared both the c-reactive protein levels and fatty acid levels in 124 people. They measured total omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid. The people with the highest c-reactive protein levels had the lowest levels of all three fats. So this study tells us that blood levels of the fats we obtain from fish oil are inversely related to c-reactive protein concentration, a marker for cardiovascular disease risk.
It will take a future study to prove that taking fish oil actually lowers c-reactive protein. While we are waiting for this to happen, it won’t hurt to take fish oil. We already suspect fish oil is good for the heart. In fact haven’t we been telling patients for years that eating fish cuts heart attack risk in half. Now isn’t that a coincidence?
Our original article on the Jupiter Trial:
Abstract of the Current Omega-3 fat Study:
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication 8 April 2009; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.20
An inverse relationship between plasma n-3 fatty acids and C-reactive protein in healthy individuals
M A Micallef1, I A Munro1 and M L Garg1,2
1. Nutraceuticals Research Group, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
2. Hunter Medical Research Institute, John Hunter Hospital, New Lambton, New South Wales, Australia
Correspondence: Professor ML Garg, Nutraceuticals Research Group, The University of Newcastle, 305C Medical Sciences Building, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia. E-mail: manohar.garg@...
Received 19 October 2008; Revised 13 January 2009; Accepted 3 March 2009; Published online 8 April 2009.
High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is a marker of low-grade sustained inflammation. Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The aim of this study was to investigate whether plasma n-3 fatty acid concentration is related to hs-CRP concentration. A total of 124 free-living adults, were divided into tertiles of plasma hs-CRP (<1.0, 1.0–3.0 and >3.0 mg/l). Body composition and anthropometric measurements were recorded. Hs-CRP was analysed using immunoassays and fatty acids were measured by gas chromatography. Plasma hs-CRP concentration was negatively correlated with total n-3 fatty acids (P=0.05), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; P=0.002) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; P=0.01). The highest hs-CRP tertile (>3.0 mg/l) had significantly lower concentrations of total n-3 fatty acids, EPA and DPA, when compared with the other tertiles (P<0.05). This study provides evidence that in healthy individuals
plasma n-3 fatty acid concentration is inversely related to hs-CRP concentration, a surrogate marker of CVD risk.