A high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today's Western diets, promotes the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Increased dietary intake of linoleic acid (LA) leads to oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), platelet aggregation, and interferes with the incorporation of essential fatty acids (EFA) in cell membrane phopholipids. Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids influence gene expression. Omega-3 fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory effects, suppress interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), whereas omega-6 fatty acids tend to be pro-inflammatory. Because inflammation is at the base of many chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids plays an important role in the manifestation of disease, particularly in persons with genetic variation, as for example in individuals with genetic variants at the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO).

Increased dietary arachidonic acid (AA) significantly enhances the apparent atherogenic effect of genotype, whereas increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) blunts this effect.

The diet-gene interaction further suggests that dietary omega-6 fatty acids promote, whereas marine omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA inhibit leukotriene-mediated inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis in this subpopulation.

Key word: omega ratio, omega balance