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Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis


Prospective studies of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in relation to stroke have yielded inconsistent results. The authors conducted a meta-analysis of prospective studies to summarize available evidence regarding the relation between long-chain omega-3 PUFA intake and stroke. Pertinent studies were identified by searching PubMed and Embase databases to November 1, 2012 and by reviewing the reference lists of relevant publications. Prospective studies that provided relative risks (RRs) with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between dietary long-chain omega-3 PUFA intake and stroke were eligible. A random-effects model was used to combine study-specific results. Eight prospective studies, with 5238 stroke events among 242,076 participants, were included in the meta-analysis. The combined RR of total stroke was 0.90 (95 % CI, 0.81–1.01) for the highest versus lowest category of long-chain omega-3 PUFA intake, without heterogeneity among studies (P = 0.32). Results were similar for ischemic (RR, 0.82; 95 % CI, 0.71–0.94) and hemorrhagic stroke (RR, 0.80; 95 % CI, 0.55–1.15). A statistically significant reduction in total stroke risk was observed in women (RR, 0.80; 95 % CI, 0.65–0.99). This meta-analysis showed no overall association between omega-3 PUFA intake and stroke, but suggests that women might benefit from a higher intake of these PUFAs.

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This study was supported by a research grant from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS). The funding source had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Susanna C. Larsson.

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Larsson, S.C., Orsini, N. & Wolk, A. Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol 27, 895–901 (2012).

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  • n-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Meta-analysis
  • Prospective studies
  • Stroke