Omega-3s May Slow Aging in Heart Patients
Heart Disease Patients With High Omega-3 Fatty Acids Age More Slowly on Cellular Level
WebMD News Archive
Omega-3s and Aging Study Details continued...
How does that relate to aging? "We don’t have enough data to be able to
convert the changes of telomere shortening into years of aging," he says. "This
may be one of the first studies to look at the change in telomere length over
There was no association found between omega-3 fatty acid levels and
telomere length at the study start. The researchers aren't sure why, but state
that omega-3 fatty acid levels is one of many influences on the length of the
telomeres, with other factors including inflammation in the body, obesity,
oxidative stress, and lack of physical activity.
Would high omega-3 blood levels help those without heart disease?
Farzaneh-Far can't say. ''Whether this effect of omega-3 fatty acids on
telomere length is present in those without coronary heart disease, I just
can't say," Farzaneh-Far says, noting it was beyond the scope of the study.
However, he adds, ''it could be.'' Telomere shortening occurs in everyone, he
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Aging: Other Opinions
''This is very exciting news, to show how fish oil works on a cellular
level," says Ravi Dave, MD, a cardiologist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center
& Orthopaedic Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at the
University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine.
The new finding, he tells WebMD, builds on previous research. "There has
been a strong association found that if you take marine omega-3 fatty acids, it
reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease."
Researchers have been trying to pin down why. Several proposed mechanisms
have been found, including reduction of inflammation in the body or reducing
the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, Dave says.
With the new finding, he says, "it's no longer a hypothesized mechanism. It
has some basis behind how it works."
But, he adds, "fish oils are only one of the things that affect telomere
length." Many other factors, he says, such as oxidative stress on the cells,
play a role.
Eventually, Dave says, if the telomere research bears out, a test to check a
person's telomere length may be one way to predict the risk of heart
The new research demonstrates a protective effect of fish oil on the aging
clock, adds Robert Zee, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical
School and director of molecular epidemiology at the division of preventive
medicine of Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. He has reported a link
between shorter telomere length and heart attacks. But the new findings need
replication, he says.