NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA. Researchers at the University of Sydney sought to explore the effects of fish oil and cystic fibrosis. Their results revealed that daily supplementation with fish oil capsules alleviated many of the symptoms associated with cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is a serious, inherited childhood disease which involves a malfunctioning of the body's mucus glands. An abnormally thick mucus is produced which clogs the lungs and results in breathing difficulties. Other symptoms include persistent cough and wheezing, repeated lung infections, and a failure to gain weight.
Sixteen cystic fibrosis patients aged 12 to 26 took part in the experiment to determine if any relationship existed between fish oil and cystic fibrosis. Half the group received fish oil capsules providing 2.7 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day while the other half received identical olive oil capsules as a placebo. After six weeks of treatment the patients receiving the fish oil capsules coughed up significantly less sputum, were breathing easier (both forced expiatory volume and vital capacity were up) and generally felt better. The Australian researchers believe that the EPA acts by modifying the role of leukotriene B4. Leukotriene B4 is thought to be the main culprit in the excessive inflammatory response to bacteria which characterizes cystic fibrosis.
Lawrence, R. and Sorrell, T. Eicosapentaenoic acid in cystic fibrosis: evidence of a pathogenetic role for leukotriene B4. The Lancet, Vol. 342, August 21, 1993, pp. 465-69