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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fish oil doesn't appear to be of any help in treating multiple sclerosis

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: April 16, 2012
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner
Fish oil doesn't appear to be of any help in treating multiple sclerosis, Norwegian researchers found.
In a randomized controlled trial, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids had no effect on the number of brain lesions seen on MRI over two years compared with placebo, Oivind Torkildsen, MD, PhD, of Haukeland University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues reported online in the Archives of Neurology.
Though the Norwegian diet is usually associated with high levels of fish intake, Torkildsen told MedPage Today that serum omega-3 levels in the placebo group were low to normal, "which indicates that their fish intake was not higher than would be expected in other populations," and that those in the supplementation group did indeed see a rise in omega-3 levels while the placebo group did not.
Smaller trials have found a potential benefit for omega-3 fatty acids, which may be active in MS because of their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. But controlled trials haven't been able to draw any definitive conclusions, the researchers said.
Still, fish oils are the most common form of complementary medicine used by MS patients, they noted.
So Torkildsen and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial at 13 public neurology departments in Norway totaling 92 patients ages 18 to 55 with relapsing-remitting MS.
Patients were given either 1,350 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 850 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) every day, or placebo.
After the first 6 months of the trial, all patients were also given 44 mcg of interferon beta-1a three times a week for another 18 months.
The researchers found that at all time points -- 6, 9, and 24 months -- there were no differences in the number of gadolinium-enhancing MRI lesions between groups.
At 6 months, the median number of new lesions was three in the omega-3 group compared with two in the placebo group, which wasn't a significant difference. Nor were there any significant between-group differences at 9 and 24 months, after patients started on interferon, they reported.
Continue reading this study. Click here

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