Fish Oil May Treat Lung Disease
Diet Rich in Omega-3 Fats May Help Treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
WebMD News Archive
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 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. The study
appears in Chest.
No. 5 Cause of Death
COPD is the world's No. 5 cause of death, and cases are predicted to rise in
coming years, write the researchers.
They included Wataru Matsuyama, MD, PhD. Matsuyama works in the respiratory
medicine division of Japan's Kagoshima University Hospital.
Matsuyama's study included 64 COPD patients who hadn't smoked for at least
They also hadn't had a bad flare-up of COPD in at least a month. None was
taking antibiotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Dishing Up Omega-3s
The patients were split into two groups. One group was assigned to eat a
diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The other group got fewer omega-3 fatty
Patients promised not to take omega-3 supplements (such as fish oil or
flaxseed oil capsules) on their own. They also wrote down everything they ate
for four days per month during the study.
The patients' progress was tracked in two different ways. Their levels of
inflammatory chemicals were tracked. They also took six-minute walking
The farther COPD patients can walk in that test, the better their chances of
survival tend to be, the researchers note.
Less Inflammation With Omega-3s
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
Side effects seen with two or three patients on each diet included diarrhea
and nausea. Those problems were mild and controllable, write Matsuyama and
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