Fish oil supplements and the self-correcting nature of science

Fish oil supplements and the self-correcting nature of science

Fish oil supplements and the self-correcting nature of science 500 378 Adam Grossman

I’m often asked my views on how the latest paper to find a correlation between a chemical and a bodily injury (or not find any correlation, as the case may be) affects my views on the subject.

My answer is usually that I have to see the rest of the literature. This is how most scientists will respond because they know that it is only through validation and continued development of literatures that science approaches the truth.

This latest news on fish oil supplementation to protect oneself from cardiovascular events bears this approach out. Early evidence suggested that fish oil could be protective, leading several groups to (retrospectively) jump the gun on recommending that those at higher risk of cardiovascular disease take fish oil supplements. For example, the American Heart Association maintains such a recommendation today.

At Praedicat we’ve internalized this reality about the scientific process: individual studies say whatever they say, but the real information is contained in the complete literature. That is why our scoring of the general acceptance of scientific hypotheses uses as much information as possible from each literature. As the scientific process sorts out the truth of each hypothesis our analytics keep up.

The findings are just the latest to cast doubt on the usefulness of fish oil supplementation for major cardiovascular disease end points. Although early trials showed a substantial mortality benefit, the supplements haven’t lived up to their promise in later studies.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2679051