Blood n-3 fatty acid levels and total and cause-specific mortality from 17 prospective studies

William S. Harris*, Nathan L. Tintle, Fumiaki Imamura, Frank Qian, Andres V. Ardisson Korat, Matti Marklund, Luc Djoussé, Julie K. Bassett, Pierre Hugues Carmichael, Yun Yu Chen, Yoichiro Hirakawa, Leanne K. Küpers, Federica Laguzzi, Maria Lankinen, Rachel A. Murphy, Cécilia Samieri, Mackenzie K. Senn, Peilin Shi, Jyrki K. Virtanen, Ingeborg A. BrouwerKuo Liong Chien, Gudny Eiriksdottir, Nita G. Forouhi, Johanna M. Geleijnse, Graham G. Giles, Vilmundur Gudnason, Catherine Helmer, Allison Hodge, Rebecca Jackson, Kay Tee Khaw, Markku Laakso, Heidi Lai, Danielle Laurin, Karin Leander, Joan Lindsay, Renata Micha, Jaako Mursu, Toshiharu Ninomiya, Wendy Post, Bruce M. Psaty, Ulf Risérus, Jennifer G. Robinson, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Linda Snetselaar, Aleix Sala-Vila, Yangbo Sun, Lyn M. Steffen, Michael Y. Tsai, Nicholas J. Wareham, Alexis C. Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The health effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been controversial. Here we report the results of a de novo pooled analysis conducted with data from 17 prospective cohort studies examining the associations between blood omega-3 fatty acid levels and risk for all-cause mortality. Over a median of 16 years of follow-up, 15,720 deaths occurred among 42,466 individuals. We found that, after multivariable adjustment for relevant risk factors, risk for death from all causes was significantly lower (by 15-18%, at least p < 0.003) in the highest vs the lowest quintile for circulating long chain (20-22 carbon) omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids). Similar relationships were seen for death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes. No associations were seen with the 18-carbon omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid. These findings suggest that higher circulating levels of marine n-3 PUFA are associated with a lower risk of premature death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2329
Number of pages1
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021


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