WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
April 8, 2008 - Taking omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful for many things,
but maybe not for preventing a relapse of Crohn's disease.
Two related studies show that omega-3s are not effective in preventing
inflammation associated with Crohn's disease.
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect anywhere along
the digestive tract. With Crohn's, a patient may experience periods of
remission and recurrence.
Researchers looked at whether high doses of omega-3s worked as maintenance
therapy in patients with Crohn's disease in remission. A total of 738 people
participated in two studies. No significant differences were observed between
the two treatment groups in either trial.
In one study, 363 participants were assigned randomly to take either a daily
omega-3 supplement or a placebo for 52 weeks. In the second study, 375
participants took the pills for 58 weeks.
Researchers say the results in the first and second study were similar. Here
are some of the findings:
In the first study:
There was no statistically significant difference in rate of relapse between
the treatment and placebo groups.
In the second study:
The research took place between January 2003 and February 2007 at centers
across Canada, Europe, Israel, and the U.S.
Researchers found that even after a year of follow-up care, omega-3 fatty
acids did not seem to provide any significant benefit to preventing a
The studies show no serious adverse effects for people with Crohn's disease
who take large doses of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and have been used in the
treatment of inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid
arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids can also benefit those with heart
disease and other problems.
The study authors write that their research is "important" because it's
"widespread" among people with Crohn's disease to turn to omega-3 supplements for help based on the positive results of
The research appears in the April 9 issue of The Journal of the American
Feagen, B. The Journal of the American Medical Association, April 9,
2008; vol 299: pp1690-1696.
Mews release, The Journal of the American Medical Association.
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