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Fish oils increase remission in rheumatoid arthritis

Posted 4 March 2015 12:00 AM by Dr Sarah Brewer
Fish Oils

The anti-inflammatory action of high-dose, omega-3 fish oils greatly improves the response to drug treatment in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

When 140 volunteers were given either 10ml high dose fish oil (5.5g EPA + DHA per day) or a control oil for twelve months, those on the active treatment were 76% more likely to respond to their triple drug therapy than those taking the control oil. If the triple therapy failed, patients were moved on to a more intensive treatment with an immunosuppressive drug called leflunomide. Of those taking the high dose fish oil, only 10.5% ‘failed’ triple therapy and moved on to the more intensive treatment, compared to one third (32.1%) of those on the control oil. The study authors, a group of rheumatologists from Australia, also reported that patients in the high-dose fish oil were twice as likely to go into remission as those on the control oil. The treatment was well tolerated, with a similar number (about 12%) withdrawing from each group.

This is exciting news for people with rheumatoid arthritis, as previous research shows that taking high dose fish oils helps to reduce joint pain, morning stiffness and the number of joints that are tender and inflamed. After two to three months, fish oils damp down symptoms enough to reduce the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs, which can produce numerous side effects).

Omega-3 fish oils also have beneficial effect on the heart and circulation. As people with rheumatoid arthritis are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those without, the rheumatologists also suggested that taking fish oil supplements may offer some additional protection against heart disease and stroke.

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