Magazine article Science News

Fish Oil Benefits Keep Adding Up: Omega-3s May Help Battle Sepsis, Age-Related Diseases

Magazine article Science News

Fish Oil Benefits Keep Adding Up: Omega-3s May Help Battle Sepsis, Age-Related Diseases

Article excerpt

Promising news about omega-3 fatty acids just keeps rolling in. One new study bolsters previous data suggesting that fish oil supplements high in omega-3s may help critically ill people by quelling inflammation. And another study finds that robust omega-3 levels protect the ends of chromosomes from damage, which may have benefits in warding off age-related diseases.

Fish, walnuts, some vegetable oils and many other foods are rich in omega-3s.

In a study published online January 19 in Critical Care, scientists tested the value offish oil supplements in 23 people admitted to a hospital in Penafiel, Portugal. The patients were critically ill with sepsis, a life-threatening overreaction to a microbial infection. Although doctors use a host of drugs and around-the-clock care to treat sepsis, the death rate is still high, up to 35 percent.

Researchers randomly assigned 13 patients to receive soybean oil and fish oil as their daily fat intake. The other 10 received only soybean oil. All patients were fed intravenously and were on ventilators to assist breathing, says study coauthor Philip Calder, a biochemist at the University of Southampton in England.

After four weeks of treatment, four people in each group had died. Excluding those, the patients given fish oil recovered and were discharged from the hospital in 28 days on average, compared with 82 days for those not getting fish oil.

A hallmark of sepsis is uncontrolled inflammation that threatens vital organs, including the lungs. Tests showed patients on fish oil had signs of reduced inflammation and, possibly because of this, processed oxygen better, Calder says. …

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