Fish Oil and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis

June 20, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

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Fish oil. We’ve been hearing and reading tonnes of health benefits from increase intake of fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), either from food sources or dietary supplements.

Now, as presented at EULAR 2008 (the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism held in Paris, France)…fish oil has been associated with reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Take note of the following summary of findings:

Intake of oily fish is associated with a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), whereas psychosocial work stress and smoking can increase the risk of developing the condition.

The findings were taken from a Swedish large population-based case-control study called EIRA (Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis).

The above research claims to be the first to demonstrate the protective effect of fish oil to rheumatoid arthritis. The reduction of risk was estimated at 20-30%.

Studying 1,899 subjects with a confirmed diagnosis of RA (fulfilling ACR criteria) and 2,145 controls (randomly selected and matched for age, sex and residential area), investigators concluded that the odds ratio (OR) for developing RA was 0.8 (0.7-1.0) for those who consumed oily fish 1-7 times per week or 1-3 times per month, compared with those who never, or seldom consumed oily fish. Interestingly, no significant association with RA risk was observed for consumption of fish oil supplements.

There goes the bit again on supplements. When dietary sources are found effective, the supplements aren’t. At least not significantly. Though sometimes it is the other way around. But then keep in mind that it is always always a lot better to intake the dietary sources instead of popping the supplemental form. In this case, fish oil. There are are just too much fish oil supplements in the market.

But take this: you may be popping fish oil supplements but your diet contains all food bad for arthritis. Do you think you’ll benefit from the fish oil you’ve been taking? I think not. So as I have always said, dietary changes are crucial. We just gotta do it, at one point or another. It isn’t easy, but it can be done, right?

Tobacco smoking is an established risk factor for RA, but the investigators found that there is a dose dependency for the level of smoking (i.e. the number of cigarettes smoked across a given period) on the odds ratio of developing anti-citrulline (anti-CCP) positive RA.

Psychosocial stress at work, defined as low decision latitude (or low level of control) was found to be associated with a higher risk for RA.

So need I say more? I say put fish oil in your diet as early in your life as possible. You’ll benefit more from it and not just in terms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Read more from Science Daily.

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2 Responses to “Fish Oil and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis”
  1. Gloria Gamat says:

    i totally agree with you Mike. have more omega-3s from food sources instead of supplements. i am not too convinced that supplemental forms have some bad side effects.

  2. Mike says:

    It would seem to me that what’s key to fighting inflammation diseases like arthritis is eating more whole foods high in omega-3s, while reducing foods high in omega-6s. I understand why people take fish oil; in my part of the US, fish are tough to come by. But true be told, people would be better off finding other foods, like flax and walnuts, that are high in omega-3s; rather than taking suppliments.

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