High Omega-6 Levels Could Help You Live Longer

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According to a new study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, omega-6 fatty acids can prevent cardiovascular diseases and protect you against premature death!

Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are rumoured to increase the risk of several chronic diseases, because they promote low-grade inflammation and other factors. This negative speculation is due to the that linoleic acid is converted into arachidonic acid in the human body, which is then converted into other inflammation-promoting compounds.

However, omega-6 fatty acids also increase the production of anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s this juxtaposition that makes it difficult to determine the associations of dietary factors with the risk of developing disease just by looking at their effects of disease risk factors.

Ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland, the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, determined the blood fatty acid levels of 2,480 men between 42 and 60 years of age at the onset of the study, in 1984-1989. During an average follow-up of 22 years, 1,143 men died of disease-related causes, and deaths due to an accident or other reasons were excluded from the study.

The researchers split the study participants into five different groups based on their blood linoleic acid level. They found that the risk of premature death was 43% lower in the group with the highest level, in comparison to the group with the lowest level. When the researchers looked at a more detailed analysis of the causes of death, and found there was a similar association exists for death due to cardiovascular diseases, including deaths caused by other reasons such as cardiovascular diseases or cancer.

No association was found for any deaths due to cancer, and weaker associations were observed for the blood arachidonic level. A very important discovery this study revealed was that the outcome is incredibly similar, no matter if the participants had cardiovascular diseases, cancer or diabetes at the beginning of the study.

This particular study definitely adds gravitas to other population-based studies which has found a correlation between higher dietary intake of linoleic acid and a higher blood linoleic acid level to a smaller risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, without increasing the risk of cancer. However, a new finding was the observed was the association of arachidonic acid with a reduced risk of death.

A person’s linoleic acid level is affected by their diet, and the main sources of this type of acid are nuts, seeds, vegetable and plant-based spreads, but a person’s diet will only slightly affect their blood arachidonic acid level.