Omega-3 pioneer Dyerberg defends benefits of fish oil in Scientific American article

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / geckophotos
© Getty Images / geckophotos

Related tags omega-3 Heart health

Jørn Dyerberg, the Danish scientist who is one of the pioneers of the health benefits of omega-3s, has hit back at a recent opinion piece in Scientific American that questioned the value of fish oil supplements.

Dr Dyerberg, working with compatriots Hans Olaf Bang and Aase Brøndum Nielsen, first reported the potential benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in landmark papers in the The Lancet​ in 1971 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ in 1975.

For his groundbreaking contributions to nutritional science, Dr Dyerberg received the “Living Legend Award” from the International Union of Nutrition Scientists (IUNS) in 2013.

In an Observations​ piece published in Scientific American​ on September 30, 2019, Dr Dyerberg expressed his concerns over about an August 22, 2019 Observations​ piece entitled “The False Promise of Fish Oil Supplements”​ by R. Preston Mason.

Dr Mason’s original article noted his affiliations as Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Elucida Research. It did not disclose that he also has a relationship with Amarin Corporation, which has developed Vascepa, a triglyceride-lowering drug derived from the omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA.

An editor’s note added to Dr Mason’s article on September 27 stated that the omission was due to “an error on the part of Mason’s representative”​. The editor’s note added: “Mason has been the author of 12 papers on fish oil, 10 of which were supported by Amarin, and another of which was 'critically reviewed' by employees of the company.”

In the response post, “No, Fish Oil Supplements Do Not Represent False Promise”​, Dr Dyerberg points out this omission, and noted that Dr Mason referenced several large studies that found no benefits of omega-3s on heart risk, but said that no mention was made that these studies used pharmaceutical omega-3 products and not omega-3 supplements.

“The most likely reason that many of these studies failed to show benefit was the low dose of omega-3 fatty acids used (typically 840 mg a day). Whether they were pharmaceuticals or supplements is not the point—dose is the point! In the REDUCE-IT study using Vascepa, the dose was 4,000 mg a day—almost five times higher than the 840 mg a day of omega-3 fatty acids in other studies. Implying that these trials were null because "supplements" were used is, in my view, disingenuous,” ​wrote Dr Dyerberg.

To read Dr Dyerberg’s full article, please click HERE​.

The omega-3 pioneer


By Stephen Daniells

It all started with a trip to Greenland in 1970. Three Danes, a couple of dogsleds, and several years of study later and the omega-3 was born. Since then, awareness and understanding of marine omega-3 has sky-rocketed...

Jorn Dyerberg Cropped
Dr Jørn Dyerberg

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