I disagree that taking it is that casual and innocuous. One of the effects of advancing liver disease catalyzed by Hep-C is thrombocytopenia (low platelets) which can also be an unambiguous side effect of fish oil. So lab values relative to platelets and an M.D. awareness would be prudently safer.
Having hepatitis c does not make fish oil unsafe to take. My husband has hep c and cirrhosis, and currently takes 1760mg of fish oil per day at the recommendation of his hepatologist. It was recommended for him because of elevated triglycerides and was deemed safe even though he has low platelets. Of course, always discuss any medications, including supplements, with your doctor.
yodennis: Thrombocytopenia is NOT a side-effect of fish oil consumption; it should be used with caution in patients with coagulopathy because it lowers cholesterol and triglycerides and therefore impacts clotting and bleeding, but it is not known to lower platelets.
A few sites (without spelling out the mechanism) express the possibility of "increased bleeding" and one stated it "seemed to lower platelets" but indeed such sites are far from scholarly and you speak with confidence and lucidity so I presume you are correct (validated by your husbands hepatologist). As your history reveals I'm sure you can empathize with my caution (I have both thrombocytopenia and varices) when reading of such potentialities.
Your caution is well-warranted, and I fully understand your perspective. Certainly, fish oil or any other supplement should not be taken without consideration of the whole picture: what is right for one person may be wrong for another. Thankfully, in general most people who have hep c have not progressed to cirrhosis like yourself and my husband to have to worry about the platelet concerns. I'm certainly no expert in the mechanisms of microbiology, but my understanding is that fish oil doesn't reduce the production or the number of platelets, but rather, can lessen their "stickiness," if you will, so as with all other meds, it is indeed a risk/benefit balance in folks with low platelets.
In my husband's case, it was only advised after he started treatment and had a jump in triglycerides to almost 400 -- that and pretty severe anemia coupled with previous CAD lead his docs to think it was a wise move even with platelets in the 40-50 range as he has 'only trace' varices and apparently well-controlled portal hypertension. It has helped keep his triglycerides in the 100s range while on treatment.
Fish oils can be obtained from eating fish or by taking supplements. Fish that are especially rich in the beneficial oils known as omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden. They provide about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids in about 3.5 ounces of fish. Fish oil supplements are usually made from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber. Fish oil supplements often contain small amounts of vitamin E to prevent spoilage. They might also be combined with calcium, iron, or vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, or D.
Fish oil is used for a wide range of conditions. It is most often used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. Some people use fish oil to lower blood pressure or triglyceride levels (fats related to cholesterol). Fish oil has also been tried for preventing heart disease or stroke. The scientific evidence suggests that fish oil really does lower high triglycerides, and it also seems to help prevent heart disease and stroke when taken in the recommended amounts. Ironically, taking too much fish oil can actually increase the risk of stroke.
As eureka mentioned It's effective for- lowering fats called triglycerides. High triglycerides are associated with heart disease and untreated diabetes. To reduce the risk of heart disease, doctors believe it is important to keep triglycerides below a certain level. Doctors usually recommend increasing physical activity and restricting dietary fat to lower triglycerides. Sometimes they also prescribe drugs such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) for use in addition to these lifestyle changes. Now researchers believe that fish oil, though not as effective as gemfibrozil, can reduce triglyceride levels by 20% to 50%. One particular fish oil supplement called Lovaza has been approved by the FDA to lower triglycerides. Lovaza contains 465 milligrams of EP and 375 milligrams of DHA in 1-gram capsules. Possibly effective for high blood pressure- Fish oil seems to produce modest reductions in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil seem to be able to expand blood vessels, and this brings blood pressure down.
Fish Oil is SAFE for most people when taken in low doses. Taking high doses of fish oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Taking more than 3 grams per day might keep blood from clotting and can increase the chance of bleeding. High doses of fish oil might also reduce the immune system’s activity, reducing the body’s ability to fight infection. This is a special concern for people taking medications to reduce their immune system’s activity (HIV/AIDS patients, for example) and the elderly.
Make sure your brand uses molecular distillation to avoid the mercury. I've read where concern over mercury in fish oil is unfounded but I had a co-worker who died of mercury poisoning from eating tuna every day for 20 years. It was a slow, horrible death. Scared me so much I will never eat Tuna again.
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