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Fish Oil Research: 7 Influential Studies and Where They Stand on Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Image: Fish Oil Research: 7 Influential Studies and Where They Stand on Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3, fish oil capsules. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Sunday, 07 Dec 2014 01:36 PM

For more than 40 years, scientists have been studying the various impacts that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids have on the body, finding that it helps cardiac health, inflammation and may be useful in treating numerous other conditions.

As medical researchers studied the impact of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids on a variety of conditions, the industry grew significantly and is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 8.7 percent from 2014 to 2020, according to data from Grandview Research. http://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/fish-oil-market

Below are influential studies that had an impact on the use of fish oil:

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• The first studies that increased interest in fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids concerned the heart health of Greeland Inuits, according to a review of past studies by Mid America Heart Institute of Saint Luke's Hospital and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In the 1970s, studies found that Inuits had "substantially reduced rates" of myocardial infarction, or heart attacks, as compared with control subjects from the West. “These observations generated more than 4,500 studies to explore this and other effects of omega-3 fatty acids on human metabolism and health,” the Heart Institute’s review found. Those studies found that when omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into diets, heart health was impacted, including decreased risk of sudden death from irregular heart rates and lowering triglyceride levels, or fats in the blood, that cause heart disease.

• One study in 2014 garnered a lot of interest because it came down on the opposite end of the spectrum than those studies that found fish oil helps the heart. Published in March in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study led by Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury found that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil “showed consistently little or no significant effect on reducing coronary heart disease events,” Health Day reported. The health publication’s website also cited a second study that found “no reduction in heart attack, stroke or heart failure among almost 1,100 people taking omega-3 supplements.”

• A 2010 meta-analysis of the effects of fish oil on rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation found that taking fish oil “significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in RA patients and reduced or eliminated NSAID use,” according to Arthritis Today.

• A 1999 study on the long-term use of fish oil by patients suffering from IgA nephropathy, also called Berger’s Disease, found that fish oil slowed the disease’s progression, according to LiveStrong.com. Although that study found “credible evidence” that fish oil can slow IgA nephropathy, more long-term studies and clinical trials are needed.

• Several studies have stood out in the last few decades regarding fish oil and mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness called a 2010 study “groundbreaking” after it found that omega-3 fatty acids could prove effective in treating individuals who are in the early stages of developing schizophrenia. “While 27.5 percent of individuals given a placebo experienced further development of their psychosis only 4.9 percent of participants who were given Omega-3 supplements saw their condition worsen,” NAMI said. Other studies are ongoing to determine if fish oil can prevent the onset of psychosis.

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WebMD reported on several studies that indicate fish oil may have an impact on individuals suffering from depression. The first big study occurred in 1998 and was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, finding that patients with depression had low levels of omega-3s in their blood cell membranes. In 1999, another study found that fish oil given to 30 manic-depressive patients resulted in reports of “marked improvement in their symptoms,” WebMD said.

• Taking fish oil may help lower nicotine cravings, which can help individuals quit smoking, according to a report in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The report, which received a lot of media attention, found that smokers who took supplements with omega-3 decreased the number of cigarettes they were smoking daily. 

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For more than 40 years, scientists have been studying the various impacts that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids have on the body, finding that it helps cardiac health, inflammation and may be useful in treating numerous other conditions.
fish oil, research, studies, omega-3
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2014-36-07
Sunday, 07 Dec 2014 01:36 PM
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