Can omega 3 ward off rheumatoid arthritis?


Our research confirm that a lot of people struggle with joint symptoms like pain, swelling and redness as they grow older. We hope this article can provide some new insights to this problem.

If people at risk of rheumatoid arthritis consume more omega 3 fatty acids, found in
fish and fish-oil supplements, they can probably decrease their chance of developing
the disease, according to research published in Rheumatology.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease affecting multiple joints in the
body. It usually presents in the lining of the joints (synovial membrane) but can impact other
organs. A higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been observed among
patients with RA.

Pain, swelling and redness are common joint symptoms, and as the lining of the joint
become inflamed, cartilage and even bone become eroded, sometimes causing joint
deformity. The exact causes are unknown, but it is thought to be due to a faulty immune
response, in which the body’s immune system causes inflammation in the tissue that helps
joints move. Autoantibodies, or immune proteins, are believed to target the body’s tissues
and organs mistakenly.

Family history can help predict whether a person is likely to have the autoantibodies that
precede the disease’s development. There is no cure for RA, but specific exercise
techniques can help to manage it. There is also some evidence that dietary factors may help.

DHA and EPA may suppress protein that regulates immune response
Researchers wanted to know if patients with a higher omega 3 intake would have a lower risk
for developing RA. They analyzed self-reported data about omega-3 consumption from 30 people who had
autoantibodies for RA and 47 control patients who did not.
Just 6.7% of the patients who had the autoantibodies for RA reported taking an omega-3
supplement, compared with 34.4% in the control group. Blood tests also showed that those
with the autoantibodies for RA were “significantly more likely” to have lower levels of three
essential omega-3 fatty acids than the control patients.
It seems that two of the crucial omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, may be effective in
suppressing a particular protein that regulates the intensity and duration of the immune
response. Principal investigator Jill Norris, PhD, a professor in the department of
epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, comments:
“There was a very substantial difference in the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids between
the people who took omega-3 supplements and those who did not.”
Norris adds that genetics may also play a role in the ultimate effectiveness of omega-3 in
individual patients at risk of developing RA.

Fast facts about RA
• Around 1.5 million Americans have RA, or 0.6% of the population
• Women are three times more likely to have it than men
• Prevalence appears to be increasing, particularly among women.

This is the first study to find an association between omega-3 and the autoantibodies that
lead to RA among patients who are at risk but have yet to develop the disease.
Despite the small number of participants, the results indicate that omega-3 may help protect
against RA by preventing its development during the period before symptoms emerge.
Next, researchers hope to track a larger group of patients over a longer period, including
those with the RA autoantibody, to see how the disease progresses.
Omega-3 is found in cold-water fish, such as salmon or mackerel, as well as in dietary
supplements derived from fish or algae; but food sources alone may not suffice to provide
beneficial effects because modern farming practices have lowered the amount of omega-3 in
many foods by as much as 40-fold since the 1900s.

The Norwegian health authorities recommend eating fish 2-3 times a week. Taking cod liver
oil / or an omega 3 product as a dietary supplement might be a good alternative to secure a
daily sufficient intake of fatty acids.


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