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Omega-3 levels may be a better indicator of chances of death than cholesterol

The link between omega-3s and chances of death from heart, circulatory, or any other cause has been unclear, until now.

In this study, doctors measured cell-membrane levels of the omega-3s EPA, DHA, and DPA in 2,500 men and women, average age 66. DPA, found in fatty fish, is an intermediary between DHA and EPA.

After seven years, those who began the study with the highest Omega-3 Index scores, greater than 6.8 percent, were 34 percent less likely to have died from any cause, and 39 percent less likely to have died from heart or circulatory causes, including stroke, compared to those with Omega-3 Index scores below 4.2 percent.

In a first-of-its-kind test, doctors compared the Omega-3 Index scores with total cholesterol levels, which they had also measured at the start of the study. They expected to find a link between lower cholesterol levels and reduced chances for the causes of death they had tracked in the study. Unlike better Omega-3 Index scores, better cholesterol levels were not related to reduced chances of death.

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