Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Maintain Lung Health
New evidence from a large-scale study supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could potentially reduce the risk of lung function decline.
The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, aimed to understand better the association between omega-3 fatty acids and lung health.
“We know a lot about the role of diet in cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but the role of diet in chronic lung disease is somewhat understudied,” said corresponding author Patricia A. Cassano, PhD, director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “This study adds to growing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, which are part of a healthy diet, may be important for lung health too.”
The investigation had two parts. The first was a longitudinal observational study involving 15,063 participants from the National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Cohorts Study, a collection of NIH-funded studies on determinants of personalized risk for chronic lung disease. All the participants were generally healthy when the trial began, showing no signs of chronic lung disease. The study group was comprised of diverse adults with an average age of 56 years old, 55 percent of whom were female. Researchers followed the participants for up to 20 years, averaging seven years.
Results from the first half of the study showed that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in a person’s blood were associated with a reduced rate of lung function decline. Researchers observed the strongest associations for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Part two of the investigation analysed genetic data from a study involving over 500,000 European participants from the UK Biobank. Researchers studied specific genetic markers in the blood as a proxy for dietary omega-3 fatty acid levels to observe any correlations to lung health. The results showed that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, were associated with better lung function.
According to researchers, these findings indicate that omega-3 fatty acids can benefit lung health.
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