Tuesday, December 13, 2005

YAFOP: Yet another fish oil post

Yet another fish oil post.  (I've posted on this subject before.)  

There probably are beneficial effects from fish oil, ranging from treatment of depression, to treatment of vascular disease and arthritis.  Now comes a study that shows it oculd be helpful for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis).  The original article ( Matsuyama, W. Chest, December 2005; vol 128: pp 3817-3827) is not up on the Internet yet, so this is from a news release.

Fish Oil May Treat Lung Disease
Diet Rich in Omega-3 Fats May Help Treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Dec. 12, 2005 -- New research from Japan shows that eating foods like salmon, herring, walnuts, and flaxseed oil could help treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Those foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are scarce in the typical American diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been studied for conditions including heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.  

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are examples of COPD. Smoking is a significant cause of the disease.  Japanese doctors put omega-3 fatty acids to the test. They led a two-year study of COPD patients.  They found diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids helped curb COPD. [...]

People in the omega-3 group had two advantages. They had a significant drop in lung inflammation. They also walked farthest in the six-minute walking test.  Side effects seen with two or three patients on each diet included diarrhea and nausea. Those problems were mild and controllable, write Matsuyama and colleagues.  The researchers suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may be a "safe and practical method for treating COPD."

Since their study was small, they call for bigger, longer studies to check their results.
This could be important news for smokers and ex-smokers.  Note that one of the common side effects, a fishy taste in the mouth, was not mentioned.  Persons who are troubled by that can try two things: they can keep the fish oil gelcaps in the refrigerator, or they can get enteric-coated capsules.  Keeping the capsules in the refrigerator increases the time it takes for them to dissolve, so that more of the oil is released in the intestines, not the stomach.  Patients who get diarrhea probably would be fine if they started taking just one capsule per day, and increased slowly.  This gives the GI tract time to adjust.  

See these two sites (1 2) for lists of products that have been found to be suitably free of mercury and PCB's.  It probably takes about 5 to 6 grams per day (1 gram = 1000 milligrams) to get the maximum effect.