It's known that high levels of fat in the blood contribute to a postmenopausal woman's risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada studied a group of postmenopausal women either receiving or not receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In the well controlled study, 35 postmenopausal women, half receiving HRT, were assigned to receive 8 capsules per day of either an omega-3 fatty acid enriched fish oil supplement or a dummy pill. At the end of the one-month study, the omega-3 fatty acid supplement had lowered serum triglycerides (a type of blood fat implicated in heart disease risk) by an average of 26% and reduced the overall ratio of triglyceride to HDL by 28%. However, triglyceride lowering was less prominent in women on hormone therapy, 19%, compared to women not taking hormones, 36%.
Recent studies have shown that serum triglycerides pose an independent risk factor for CVD. The possibility that high triglycerides may be a more important risk factor for heart attack in women than in men has also been reported previously. Two recent studies of women on hormone replacement therapy showed no beneficial effect on heart disease risk despite improvements in their cholesterol levels. In both studies, significant increases in triglyceride levels were reported with taking hormones. Fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to specifically reduce triglyceride concentrations in humans; consequently, supplementation with fish-oil could benefit women, even if they are on HRT.
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