BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Many small studies have concluded that fish oil supplementation leads to a marked improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, precisely because these studies have been small their publication has not had a major impact on the medical treatment of arthritis. A team of researchers from the Harvard Medical School has now combined and analyzed the results of these smaller studies.
Their meta-analysis covered 10 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies aimed at determining the effect of fish oil supplementation on 8 measures of arthritis severity including the number of tender joints, number of swollen joints, extent of morning stiffness, grip strength, erythrocyte sedimentation rates, and overall global assessment of disease severity. The studies involved a total of 368 participants who took fish oil supplements for at least three months. The meta-analysis revealed a highly significant decrease in the number of tender joints and a significant shortening in the duration of morning stiffness among patients supplementing with fish oils. No statistically significant changes were observed for the other measured indicators of disease severity.Fortin, Paul R., et al. Validation of a meta-analysis: the effects of fish oil in rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Vol. 48, 1995, pp. 1379-90