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Study: Omega-3 fatty Acids May Improve Lung Health

The most recent evidence supporting the link between Omega 3 and the lungs comes from a sizable, comprehensive research of healthy adults…

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements, which are abundant, now seem promising for preserving lung health, according to a study written up in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties, are also known to improve heart health, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and prevent cancer.

The Research

The most recent evidence supporting the link between Omega 3 and the lungs comes from a sizable, comprehensive research of healthy adults. It demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids, which are also included in nuts, seeds, plant oils, and diets with added nutrients, can help stop the deterioration of lung function.

“We know a lot about the role of diet in cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but the role of diet in chronic lung disease is somewhat understudied,” corresponding author Patricia A. Cassano, director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, stated.

“This study adds to growing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, which are part of a healthy diet, may be important for lung health too,” Cassano said.

The researchers designed a two-part study to examine how lung function changes over time in relation to blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

In the first section, 15,063 Americans with an average age of 56 participated in a longitudinal observational study.

When the study started, most of the individuals were in generally good health and showed no signs of having a chronic lung condition.

They were monitored for up to 20 years, with a seven-year average. This longitudinal study showed that the higher the level of omega-3 fatty acids in a person’s blood, the lower the rate of decline in lung function. Researchers observed the strongest association with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in large amounts in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines. DHA is also available as a dietary supplement.

In the second part, researchers analyzed genetic data from a large European patient study involving more than 500,000 participants. As an indirect measure, or surrogate, of dietary omega-3 fatty acid levels, they looked at specific genetic markers in the blood to see how these correlated with lung health. The results showed that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, improved lung function. The caveat of this study is that only healthy adults were included.

The researchers next want to examine blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in association with rates of lung function decline in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, including heavy smokers, to see if the same beneficial associations are found.

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