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Fish Omega-3s May Benefit Human Health Down to the Bone

Improving blood circulation, turning off inflammation, inhibiting certain brain and eye diseases, and preventing the spread of prostate cancer to bone are a few of the potential benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in fish or fish oil.

July 5, 2006


Improving blood circulation, turning off inflammation, inhibiting certain brain and eye diseases, and preventing the spread of prostate cancer to bone are a few of the potential benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in fish or fish oil. These reports from peer-reviewed scientific journals are summarized in the June 2006 Fats of Life e-newsletter for consumers and PUFA Newsletter for health professionals.

"Recent controversy about the benefits of marine omega-3s has in no way diminished their many health benefits," said Editor Joyce Nettleton, DSc, RD.

A review of many studies on individual omega-3 PUFAs concluded that at high levels, both EPA and DHA, the omega-3s in fish, have similar effects in reducing blood triglyceride (fat) levels, "oxidative stress" and inflammation. DHA was also linked to increased HDL ("good") cholesterol in about 20% of people with abnormal blood lipids, such as type 2 diabetics. Another study showed that DHA and EPA improved blood flow by 42% in patients with chronic heart failure and impaired circulation after only six weeks of consuming cod liver oil.

Fish omega-3s are also important for proper brain cell growth and for regeneration in brain cell injury or degenerative disease, noted new research. For example, DHA and EPA were shown to be required for nerve cells in the brain to grow.

Investigating prostate cancer revealed that EPA or DHA, fish omega-3s, blocked this cancer from spreading to bone, where it tends to gravitate. Another report noted that low omega-3 status accompanied the development of glaucoma, an eye condition that results in a loss of visual field and blindness if untreated.

The June e-newsletters also include perspective on the controversial analysis of omega-3s and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular events and cancer mortality published in April 2006.

"Most of the media coverage of this review misled readers into thinking that the benefits of omega-3s have been exaggerated or worse," Nettleton noted. "A single study skewed the analysis. Without that one study, the data remain strong for significantly lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease in people who eat fish
or omega-3s regularly."

Sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products, Inc., the quarterly Fats of Life e-newsletter and PUFA Newsletter are available online at www.fatsoflife.com and by complimentary electronic subscription.

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