Fish Oil and Rheumatoid Arthritis

LEUVEN, BELGIUM. Belgian researchers have released the results of a major study aimed at determining the long-term effects of fish oil supplementation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Sixty patients completed the year-long, double-blind, randomized study. The participants were divided into 3 groups with 1 group receiving a daily supplement of 6 capsules containing 1 gram of olive oil each (placebo); another group receiving 3 olive oil capsules plus 3 fish oil capsules (containing 1 gram of fish oil each); and the third group receiving 6 fish oil capsules daily (corresponding to 2.6 grams/day of omega-3 fatty acid). All patients continued on their regular arthritis medications.

Three months into the study it became clear that the patients on fish oil alone had improved considerably when compared to the other 2 groups and this improvement became even more pronounced after 12 months of supplementation. Fifty-three per cent of the patients in the fish group showed significant overall (global) improvement as compared to 10% in the placebo group and 33% in the fish oil plus olive oil group. Forty-seven per cent of the patients in the fish were also able to reduce their intake of NSAIDs and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs as compared to 15% in the placebo group and 29% in the olive oil plus fish group. The researchers conclude that long-term supplementation with fish oils benefits rheumatoid arthritis patients significantly and may lessen their need for NSAIDs and other RA medications.
Geusens, Piet, et al. Long-term effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in active rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, Vol. 37, June 1994, pp. 824-29

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