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Low-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids Don’t Protect Heart Patients


4 Star

Low-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids Don’t Protect Heart Patients

Our Review Summary

 We were frankly a bit surprised at the number of stories on this study – this one even being filed well before the paper was even presented at the Curopean Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm.  Was it that earth-shattering?  However, at least this story did seek independent perspectives as part of their story – even if filed early.  (Also see reviews of AP and Reuters.)


Why This Matters

 The ending quote is the money quote:  "..this is by no menas the final word."  It never is. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable. The margarines used in the study are not commercially available, so we can understand why cost of these formulations wasn’t given (even if the story didn’t disclose that the these were special non-commercially-available products).

It would have been interesting to learn how the costs of omega-3 fatty acid fortified margarine compares to a comparable, unfortified product.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


Adequate. The story mentioned that there did appear to be a subcategory of benefit in women who consumed the ALA fortified margarine.  It didn’t to mention the benefits seen in individuals with diabetes from the use of fortified margarine.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

 While mentioning that there didn’t appear to be any benefit from the use of fortified margarine, the story neglected to report that there also didn’t seem to be any overt harm from the used of the fortified margarine. Even the absence of harm is worth mentioning.  We look for discussions of benefits, harms and costs in all stories and don’t see same often enough.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


 The story did an adequate job reporting on how the study was done and on some of the factors that might explain or influence the findings.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


 The story did not engage in over disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


 The story included comments from several individuals without direct ties to the study reported on but with active research programs examining the potential of benefit from omega-3 fatty acids.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story addressed some other approaches albeit indirectly: "The scientists focused on patients who were already taking medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol and potential clotting. So, the researchers theorized that the poor performance of the supplements may simply reflect the overwhelming power of the medications."

There was no discussion of other things that have been shown to lower the risk of future coronary events in those who have had a heart attack beyond taking medications. Even one line offering such context would have been helpful.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

 The story was not clear that the margarines used in the study reported on were formulated specifically for use in the study and are not commercially available.  Nor did it explain – as other stories did – that there are similar products already on the market.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

 The story did not mention that the specific margarines used in this study were formulated for use in the study and are not commercially available.  

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


No evidence that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory


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