Listed in Issue 229


DE OLIVEIRA and COLLEAGUES,  (1)Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA studied the association of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) with cardiovascular disease (CVD)in a Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.


Dietary guidelines support intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in fish and vegetable oils. However, some controversy remains about benefits of PUFAs, and most prior studies have relied on self-reported dietary assessment in relatively homogeneous populations.


In a multi-ethnic cohort of 2837 US adults (whites, Hispanics, African Americans, Chinese Americans), plasma phospholipid PUFAs were measured at baseline (2000-2002) using gas chromatography and dietary PUFAs estimated using a food frequency questionnaire. Incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) events (including coronary heart disease and stroke; n=189) were prospectively identified through 2010 during 19 778 person-years of follow-up.


In multivariable-adjusted Cox models, circulating n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were inversely associated with incident CVD, with extreme-quartile hazard ratios (95% CIs) of 0.49 for eicosapentaenoic acid (0.30 to 0.79; Ptrend=0.01) and 0.39 for docosahexaenoic acid (0.22 to 0.67; Ptrend<0.001). n-3 Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) was inversely associated with CVD in whites and Chinese, but not in other race/ethnicities (P-interaction=0.01). No significant associations with CVD were observed for circulating n-3 alpha-linolenic acid or n-6 PUFA (linoleic acid, arachidonic acid). Associations with CVD of self-reported dietary PUFA were consistent with those of the PUFA biomarkers. All associations were similar across racial-ethnic groups, except those of docosapentaenoic acid.


Both dietary and circulating eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, but not alpha-linolenic acid or n-6 PUFA, were inversely associated with CVD incidence. These findings suggest that increased consumption of n-3 PUFA from seafood may prevent CVD development in a multiethnic population.


de Oliveira Otto MC(1), Wu JH, Baylin A, Vaidya D, Rich SS, Tsai MY, Jacobs DR Jr, Mozaffarian D. Circulating and dietary omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and incidence of CVD in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.  J Am Heart Assoc. ;2(6):e000506. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.113.000506. 18 Dec 2013.


As also mentioned in the study by Sekidawa et al,by, Japanese have markedly higher dietary intake of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids LCn3PUFAs compared to other populations, e.g., 1,000 mg/day in Japan versus <100 mg/day in typical Western diet including the US due to their higher intake of fish. The above research demonstrates how this significantly impacts upon the incidence of coronary artery calcification (CAC).

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