CVD: Blinkered training pushes young doctors away from supplements

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Nutrition

Doctors show low willingness to recommend omega-3s to their patients because the training they received lacked any attention to nutrition and lifestyle.

That’s according to Ross Walker, one of Australia’s most eminent cardiologists, who says that most of his colleagues didn’t know a thing about omega-3s.

Ross Walker
Dr Ross Walker

Also a broadcaster who strongly voices his support of the benefits of omega-3 supplementation, Dr Walker says fatty acids protect us from outside toxins, making them vital for good health.

The covering of every cell, the membrane, in a healthy person is 75% fat, so you need to feed high-quality fats into that membrane. High-quality fats are omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats, not omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, while saturated fats are pretty neutral—don’t hurt, don’t help​.”

Yet the problem for conservative doctors is that if you can’t “fix a condition with a prescription pad or a scalpel​”, then the alternative is bound not to work. 

This is the problem with medical training, the amount of time given to students and to young medical trainees on nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation, it’s so minimal​.

“And if they aren’t told about it, they won’t believe it​,” says Dr Walker. “If you go to a medical school where all you’re told about is the importance of pharmaceuticals and the importance of surgical procedures and other procedures, all else is bunkum​. 

The Jesuits said: ‘give me a child to the age of seven and I’ve got them for life’. Get an 18-year-old and put them in medical school with all of this stuff and they’ll believe it​.” 

Dr Walker believes the evidence for omega-3 supplementation, multivitamins and ubiquinol, is overwhelming, but doctors are choosing to ignore the evidence. 

Omega-3s are some of the most studied chemicals. Eighty per cent of these studies have been positive in support of their benefits across the board, from heart health and brain health to joint health​. 

Why doctors don’t read the evidence properly is beyond me. And one or two randomised control trials which have been incredibly flawed have said there are no benefits from omega-3. But they have ignored all the other evidence that said there [were benefits]​.”  

Dr Waker recounts a story he heard about one well-respected cardiologist, who told a patient that he takes Lipitor because it lets him eat everything he wants.

That’s just stupid​,” he says. “Just by being healthy and happy reduces your risk of all diseases by 70% with no side effects. Taking a drug to reduce your cholesterol reduces your risk for one disease by about 20-30% with the potential of a bucket of side-effects​.

Moreover, the more you eat badly, don't take enough exercise, are stressed or smoke, the more you override any benefits you derive from a pharmaceutical drug or from a supplement. It’s not rocket science, he says, though it has clearly stumped some of the medical industry.

I was on a show six years ago about meditation as I’ve been meditating every day for 25 years. A GP who was head of the Australian Sceptics Association asked why I would waste half an hour of every day of my life meditating when I could just pop a pill in five seconds​,” he says, adding: “I rest my case​.” 

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