Blood n-3 fatty acid levels and total and cause-specific mortality from 17 prospective studies

Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE)

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The health effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been controversial. Here we report the results of a de novo pooled analysis conducted with data from 17 prospective cohort studies examining the associations between blood omega-3 fatty acid levels and risk for all-cause mortality. Over a median of 16 years of follow-up, 15,720 deaths occurred among 42,466 individuals. We found that, after multivariable adjustment for relevant risk factors, risk for death from all causes was significantly lower (by 15-18%, at least p < 0.003) in the highest vs the lowest quintile for circulating long chain (20-22 carbon) omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids). Similar relationships were seen for death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes. No associations were seen with the 18-carbon omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid. These findings suggest that higher circulating levels of marine n-3 PUFA are associated with a lower risk of premature death.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2329
Pages (from-to)2329
Number of pages1
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors below declare the following competing interests outside of the submitted work. A.I.B., Involvement in a research project partly funded by Unilever. A.S.V., Grants and support to attend professional meetings from the California Walnut Commission. B. M.P., Data and Safety Monitoring Board of a clinical trial funded by Zoll LifeCor; Steering Committee of the Yale Open Data Access Project funded by Johnson & Johnson. D.M., Research grants to Institution: the National Institutes of Health, the Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation; Personal Fees: the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3, Bunge, Indigo Agriculture, Motif FoodWorks, Amarin, Acasti Pharma, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Danone, and America’s Test Kitchen; Scientific Advisory Boards: Brightseed, Calibrate, DayTwo, Elysium Health, Filtricine, Foodome, Human Co., and Tiny Organics; and Chapter Royalties: UpToDate. J.G.R., Research grants to Institution: Acasti, Amarin, Amgen, Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Esperion, Medicines Company, Merck, Novartis, Novo-Nordisk, Regeneron, and Sanofi. Consultant: Getz Pharma, Medicines Company, and Sanofi. R.A.M., Research grants to Institution: I. L.S.I. North America; Personal Fees from PharmaVite. The author below declares the following competing interests related to the submitted work. W.S.H., Stock in Omega-Quant Analytics, LLC (a laboratory that offers blood fatty acid testing); Schiff Institute Science and Innovation Advisory Board. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Other keywords

  • Mortality, Premature
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Cause of Death


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