Almost nobody is talking about these harmful effects
This is why I never recommend fish oil to my students
Fish oils are one of the most popular health supplements in the world.
They are generally marketed as heart healthy and anti-inflammatory.
For some people they can have quite a potent anti-inflammatory effect.
You might assume that because they feel good they are good.
But the anti-inflammatory effect of these fats is due to the fact that they suppress the immune system.
This increases the likelihood of contracting an infection.
It increases the likelihood of having a severe disease caused by that infection.
It can even increase the risk of cancer.
There are numerous studies in humans, animals, and cells showing how fish oil suppresses immunity.
This human research was carried out at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Epidemiology and Systems Sciences, Charleston, South Carolina.
The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology.
The research looked at the effect of fish oil on numerous immune markers in human subjects. It was designed to see whether fish oil can impair immunity.
Six people were recruited for the study. Four people were given a relatively low dose of fish oil. The other two took some olive oil.
“We studied the effects of supplementation with fish oil on immunological parameters in a group of six normal volunteers.”
Fish oil or olive oil was given for six weeks in total.
The study ran for a further 23 weeks during which the participants took part in numerous tests looking at their immune function.
All participants had a tetanus booster shot at the beginning of the trial.
The immune response to the tetanus booster was decreased in participants who took fish oil.
“In those subjects who were given fish oil supplementation, the specific in vitro response of their peripheral blood lymphocytes to the tetanus booster appeared to be compromised at week 3.”
Peripheral blood lymphocytes are a group of cells which circulate in the blood killing infection and fighting cancer.
Fish oil harmed this critical immune response.
Antibodies which fight infection were also reduced in most of the participants taking fish oil.
“Levels of serum immunoglobulins (antibodies) decreased in three of the volunteers receiving fish oil supplementation.”
The researchers carried out other experiments on immune cells in the lab. They cultured these immune cells with EPA — the main constituent in fish oil.
EPA from fish oil suppressed immune cells in the lab similar to how fish oil affected immunity in the human study.
“All the parameters apparently affected by fish oil ingestion were also affected by the incubation of normal lymphocytes with EPA in vitro.”
The researchers concluded that relatively low doses of fish oil can suppress immunity through numerous mechanisms.
“In conclusion, low doses of fish oil may have a mild immunosuppressive effect affecting both T and B cell functions.”
These findings have been supported by similar results in numerous animal studies.
The researchers called for further studies looking at the effect of fish oils on immune function.
“These observations stress the need for more extensive trials designed to determine whether immunosuppressive effects can be consistently elicited and for studies aimed at determining the mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids affect the immune system.”
The omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil supplements can have serious effects on immune function in humans.
These supplements could leave people and a higher risk of developing infection and serious disease should infection occur.
You should always consult a healthcare practitioner about treating and diagnosing health-related problems.