Recent media headlines are dominated by rediscovery of aspirin as a wonder
drug. Doctors are well aware of benefits of low dose aspirin. It thins the
blood so naturally reduces chances of stroke or heart attack which are
predominantly caused by blockage of blood supply to these organs. It has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
So, do we all rush out and start taking aspirin!
Well, let’s put this in perspective. I am not against aspirin and use
it very often in my practice. Some patients can have side-effects or problems
with intestinal tract bleeding with aspirin and its risks in certain
circumstances can outweigh the benefits.
So, is there an alternative without the risks?
The good news is, yes. Omega 3 fish oils can provide many similar benefits.
Populations that consume a diet naturally rich in omega 3 fish oils have a low incidence of cardiac and cerebro-vascular disease, cancer and all cause
mortality [a low death rate from all causes.] These populations also have other factors that contribute to their longevity but fish oils do play a role.
A natural approach to longevity and reducing diseases such as heart disease,
stroke and cancer would include a number of things such as stress reduction,
regular exercise, adequate sleep & hydration, positive relationships, positive
mental attitude, balanced diet, avoiding sugar & tobacco, hormone
balancing in certain circumstances and nutritional supplements such
as fish oils. It is synergy of these which is much more powerful than one thing in isolation.
So, what omega-3 oils do we consume? Vegetable oils such as flax seed
oil provide some of these but not enough. The best source is fish oils.
be adequate for most of us. Another option would be fish oil capsules, ideally
these should be in enteric coated formulations and provide EPA and DHA as main
Are there any risks?
Due to contamination of our oceans, concern has been
raised about mercury content of the large predatory fish such as tuna, grouper,
snapper & bass etc. Theoretically smaller fish would be low in mercury
content and better in this regard. Also, too much of fish oils can thin
the blood so I would not recommend more than 1-
Most important thing to remember is that there is no one answer or magic
drug to solve all our problems. It has to be a combined approach.