Fish Oil Supplements Won't Help in Multiple Sclerosis:
MONDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 fatty acid
supplements don't appear to have any benefit on multiple sclerosis
(MS), according a study by Norwegian researchers.
Multiple sclerosis affects about 2.5 million people worldwide.
Some prior research has indicated that omega-3 fatty acid
supplements might have anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit
those with the disease, according to background information in the
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, such as
salmon, and in fish oil supplements.
"Our study provides evidence that omega-3 supplementation has no beneficial effect on MS, neither given alone nor in combination with interferon treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Oivind Torkildsen, from Haukeland University Hospital, in Bergen. Interferon is a standard drug given to MS patients.
"Our data do not suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was harmful or that it interfered with interferon beta treatment," he added.
This study is important, not only for neurologists and MS
patients, but also for general practitioners, who frequently advise
patients about lifestyle interventions and complementary approaches
to MS treatment, Torkildsen said.
The report was published in the April 16 online edition of the
Archives of Neurology.
For the study, Torkildsen's team looked at 92 MS patients, aged
18 to 55, with a form of the disease known as relapsing-remitting
Half of the patients were given the supplement alone or the
supplement plus injections of interferon beta-1a. The other half
received an inactive placebo.
After six months, all patients were given interferon beta-1a
three times a week for an additional 18 months.
When the patients underwent MRI brain scans to look for new
lesions, the researchers found no effect on the disease among those
taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
The results were the same whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements
were used alone or in combination with interferon beta-1a, the
study authors noted.
These findings were in contrast with two other studies that
showed possible positive effects from fish oil supplements,
Torkildsen and colleagues pointed out.
No difference existed between the groups in the number of
relapses during the first six months of treatment or after 24
months, and there were no differences in fatigue or quality of
life, according to the results.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Kottil Rammohan, a professor of
neurology and director of the MS division at the University of
Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, "It doesn't surprise me that
omega-3 fatty acids had no effect on MS. I have never looked upon
omega-3 fatty acids as having an effect on MS and I have a lot of
patients who take these supplements for heart health," he said.
However, Rammohan added, "This study won't change my advice to
patients to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements because they have
other health benefits."
For more information on MS, visit the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.