Omega-3 Fatty Acids Show Promise in Fighting Deadly Lung Disease
New research suggests that Omega-3, obtained from salmon and nuts, can slow the progression of fatal pulmonary fibrosis. This opens up the possibility of improving patients’ health with pulmonary fibrosis and other chronic lung diseases.
In a recent study of patients with pulmonary fibrosis, a research team at the University of Virginia found that elevated omega-3 levels improve lung function and prolong the survival of non-transplant patients.
Pulmonary fibrosis is when fibrous connections develop in the lungs and increase, destroying the standard lung structure and devastating the lung tissue due to hardening.
Omega-3 is a type of unsaturated fatty acid distributed in nerve cell membranes and retinas, helping maintain cell protection and structure and facilitating smooth metabolism. It also inhibits blood clot formation and promotes and strengthens bone formation. Many studies have also confirmed the anti-inflammatory effects of Omega-3, and it is known to prevent heart disease, thrombosis, and cancer and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The research team wanted to determine whether Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in protecting against interstitial lung disease that causes lung fibrosis.
The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Virginia Health, and the University of Chicago Hospital reviewed more than 300 patients with interstitial lung disease for the study. They were primarily men, and most of them were suffering from ‘idiopathic’ pulmonary fibrosis, which is a type of interstitial lung disease.
The research team found that patients with higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their plasma had improved carbon dioxide exchange capabilities and longer survival without lung transplantation. The research team stated, “These results were consistent regardless of the history of cardiovascular disease, which can only be applied to pulmonary fibrosis.”
The research team stated that more clinical trials and additional research are needed to understand how Omega-3 fatty acids protect the lungs and how much they can improve patients.
The study, “Associations of Plasma Omega-3 Fatty Acids With Progression and Survival in Pulmonary Fibrosis,” was published by a research team at Virginia Medical University in October last year in the American Thoracic Surgery Society (CHEST).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Food VS Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids can be consumed through fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, shellfish, mussels, oysters, crabs, and nuts and seeds.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who consumed fish oil at least twice a week had a lower risk of dying from heart disease and improved high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also has anti-inflammatory effects that alleviate rheumatoid arthritis and dry eye syndrome.
However, Omega-3 intake through supplements did not significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, and the effects on relieving dry eye syndrome and arthritis were minimal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (NIH) stated that the Omega-3 supplement has no known correlation with heart disease prevention, and it is not clear whether it slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
While eating omega-3 through food is generally safe, except for some people who are allergic, Omega-3 supplements may have mild side effects such as a fishy smell, bad breath, heartburn, and rash. Also, taking a large amount of Omega-3 supplements can increase the risk of bleeding and stroke and may be harmful to prostate health, so caution is needed.
According to the NIH, the recommended daily intake is 1.2g for males and females aged 9-13, 1.6g for males aged 14 and over, and 1.1g for females aged 14 and over.