Fish oil plus statins may improve cholesterol

September 10, 2002 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Fish oil plus statins may improve cholesterol

For obese people who are at risk of developing diabetes, cholesterol-lowering drugs and fish oil both improve the balance of fatty substances in the blood, study findings from University of Western Australia in Perth show.

Since the drugs, known as statins, and fish oil work in different ways, combining the two treatments could be a promising approach for obese individuals with so-called pre-diabetes.

The research team studied 48 obese men who were vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body no longer properly uses the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. All men in the study had insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. They also had a condition called dyslipidemia, which is characterized by high levels of triglycerides and "bad" LDL cholesterol, and low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.

The men were randomly assigned to one of four daily regimens for 6 weeks. One group took both a cholesterol-lowering statin drug and fish oil tablets; a second group took the drug with a placebo (dummy pill); and a third group took fish oil tablets plus a placebo. The fourth group took neither fish oil nor the statin, receiving two inactive placebos instead.

Though none of the regimens improved insulin resistance, both statins and fish oil improved the men's balance of blood fats. Statin therapy blocked the formation of cholesterol, which improved the clearance of molecules called ApoB that carry the harmful form of cholesterol in the blood. In contrast, fish oils interrupted the production of triglycerides, which interfered with the liver's production of a certain type of ApoB molecules.

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