Polyunsaturated fatty acids could help protect against death

09 May 2021
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Higher levels of circulating n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) seem to be protective against all-cause premature death, a recent study has found.

Pooling data from 17 prospective cohort studies, the researchers assessed total and cause-specific mortality outcomes in an overall sample of 42,466 individuals. In total, 15,720 of them died, yielding a mortality rate of 37 percent. At baseline, the average age was 65 years and 55 percent were women.

In terms of causes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer each accounted for approximately a third of deaths, while the remaining could be attributed to all other causes.

Comparing the median PUFA concentrations of the top vs bottom quintiles, the researchers found that higher levels tended to suppress death risk.

For example, high circulating levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) reduced all-cause mortality risk by 9 percent (hazard ratio [HR], 0.91, 95 percent CI, 0.88–0.94), while docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) led to a decrease of 11 percent (HR, 0.89, 95 percent CI, 0.85–0.92).

High concentrations of docosapentaenoic acid (HR, 0.87, 95 percent CI, 0.84–0.91), as well as of the combination of EPA and DHA (HR, 0.87, 95 percent CI, 0.83–0.90), had a slightly stronger effect, cutting all-cause mortality risk by 13 percent.

Similarly, elevated concentrations of n-3 PUFAs also seem to reduce deaths due to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other causes.

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