Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil supplements) were not associated with a reduction in cardiovascular (CV) events or cancers, results of the newly published manuscript of the VITAL study indicated.  

The initial results of VITAL were presented at the American Heart Association 2018 Scientific Sessions in Chicago. The full results were published in current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors, using a two-by-two factorial trial design, looked at both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events and cancers. The primary study endpoints included a combined major cardiovascular event endpoint (including myocardial infarction, stroke or death from CV causes) and invasive cancers of any type. The study researchers for the study enrolled more than 25,000 patients (n=25,871) in the study. Mean follow-up was 5.3 years.  

According to the results, CV events occurred in 386 patients in the omega-3 group compared to 419 in the placebo group (HR=0.92; 95% CI, 0.80 to 1.06; P=0.24). A total of 820 patients in the omega-3 group were diagnosed with invasive cancers compared to 797 in the placebo group (HR=1.03; 95% CI, 0.93 to 1.13; P=0.56). The researchers also reported similar outcomes in the vitamin D arm (vitamin D did not lower the incidence of CV events and new cancers).  

“In the past decade, the numbers of persons who supplemented their diets with fish oil increased by a factor of 10 and with vitamin D by a factor of 4,” John F. Keaney, Jr., MD, and Clifford Rosen, MD, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “But any long-term health benefits from these products remain in doubt.” 

For additional insight into the VITAL trial results, watch the DocWire News video interview with lead investigator JoAnne Manson, MD, of Harvard Medical School, conducted at the AHA 2018 Scientific Sessions in November. 

Source: New England Journal of Medicine