According to this month’s edition of BMC Medicine, statins might actually do more harm than good in some patients due to their role in inhibiting omega-3 fatty acids.
The paper reports that the first trials demonstrated the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but the health benefits are not being demonstrated in more recent trials. The authors of the paper ask the question – why the sudden change?
It is suggested that most patients in recent trials are no longer deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and the vast majority are now treated with statins. The more recent trials tested the presence of n-3 against the rate of cardiac arrhythmias and suggest that n-3 reduces the risk only in patients not taking a statin.
Other recent trials in secondary prevention showed a negative impact of n-3. However, and this is probably the important bit, when you separate statin users and non-users, there is no significant protection of n-3 observed among statin non-users, and zero improvement in patients taking statins. New clinical trial regulation was introduced in 2007, and the trials on statins following this regulation are negative (or flawed) which suggests that the lack of effect of n-3 cannot be attributed to a parallel protection by statins. In other words, one treatment is not masking the benefits of the other.
What is being witnessed in the more recent trials would perhaps make sense at a basic chemistry level. Statins help to promote the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids (n-6), which in turn inhibits n-3 and, contrary to n-3, n-6 increase insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes. Thus, n-3 and statins are counteractive at several levels and statins appear to inhibit n-3.
Source: BMC Medicine