We all recall from high school biology (yeah, right) that the rate of telomere shortening is thought to determine the number of times a cell can replicate thus limiting the life of a cell. This shortening of telomeres has been shown to independently predict morbidity and mortality in patients with CAD.
According to lead researcher Dr. Farzaneh-Far, "This suggests the existence of a novel mechanism for why omega-3 fatty acids are effective in this patient population—an area that has not been well worked out previously; it suggests they could be acting through telomeres . . . It's also the first study that shows that a dietary factor may be able to slow down telomere shortening . . . This is yet another reason for cardiologists to try to convince their patients to take either a fish-oil supplement or eat regular fatty-fish meals."
The bottomline of this observational study (which, again, showed association not causation) is that participants (608) with the lowest levels of Omega-3s had the fastest rate of telomere shortening. What is also interesting is that Dr. Farzaneh-Far and his team used what he termed "a relatively new blood test" called the Omega-3 Index test. The test cut-offs were 2.3% for those with the fastest (worst) telomere shortening and 7.3% for the slowest (best) shortening.
TIME-OUT! TIME TO BLOW THE TRACK YOUR PLAQUE HORN - AGAIN!!!
I hate to be a total shill (not really) but, come on. Dr. Davis and Track Your Plaque are once again ahead of the curve in bringing the Omega-3 Index test to its Members for some months now. It seems to me TYP also did an extensive treatise on Omega-3 Index testing in its October 2009 newsletter, and, what was the optimal blood level discussed - oh yeah - 7.3%!
Now for the REAL bottom-line! Just like Vitamin D, it doesn't matter how much you take, it matters how much get's into your blood. In fact, you don't even know, in most cases, whether the preparation you may be taking even contains its stated dose! If you do not test your blood level you have no idea if you are receiving optimal treatment - period! It took me three blood tests just to get my Vitamin D level "zeroed in."
In summation, I guess I wholeheartedly agree with Dr, Farzaneh-Far's statements, "from the telomere point of view, this is the first study to show an effect of a dietary factor, that this may be able to slow down telomere shortening" and "The idea is that the omega-3 index, the percentage of fatty acids in the blood, could be measured and that low levels would predict worse outcomes. So the omega-3 index might be useful for risk stratification in the future."
Call your doctor, get the test. If your doc says, "No!" then test yourself to get a baseline reading and decide whether it might be a good idea to get OPTIMAL treatment. I am getting my blood draw today! I'll let you how how it turns out.