While the researchers involved in the Alzheimer’s dementia study state it is reasonable to test only DHA because DHA alone has shown positive benefits in other studies (such as for stroke, ADHD, depression, etc.) those of us who are fatty acid experts feel that the data on fish oil (using both EPA and DHA ) is much stronger because EPA is present in the brain as well; it is just metabolized very quickly into DHA or oxidized (as a free radical sink) so it is not present in the highly measurable amounts that DHA, which is a structural form, is in brain cell membranes.
It is therefore incorrect to say “Fish oil no good for Alzheimer’s” as so many web sites have reported because DHA is not fish oil, it is one half of it!!! Review of studies on Pub Med shows a very strong correlation to using fish oil and reduction in plaques as well as functional changes in patients.
Using DHA alone and getting negative results for Alzheimer’s is not new. There are probably at least 6 other studies done before this one that showed the same thing over the past 5 years. These people were just smart enough to send out a press release and get publicity!
Sadly, there continues to be an “anti-fish oil” campaign by the Pharmaceutical Industry that is losing tons of money to alternative medicine because of their own constant blunders and dangerous drugs. They have nothing useful to offer Alzheimer’s patients; just ask the caregivers who have to watch them decline with or without medicines.
Worse, people who are not aware of fatty acid biology are playing right into their hands. A similar study by a drug company sponsored Journal got translated on the internet as “fish oil no good for heart disease”. In that study low dose fish oil was added to margarine (already loaded with trans fats!) and given to people for a short period of time. Those people had been on maximal drug therapy for years and had the diagnosis of heart disease for an average of 10 years.
The headlines should have read “Low dose fish oil in high trans fat
margarine does not improve outcomes in older patients with long term heart disease on maximal therapy at the time fish oil was started.”
Instead it got translated on the web as “Fish Oil no good for heart disease” and spread like wildfire with that headline.
Here is another one: ‘fish oil related to colon cancer’. In this study fish oil was given to cancer prone mice and the mice got “more cancer” than before. This is also a rehash of a series of other old studies that showed the same thing but whose authors did not use press releases or the internet to garner publicity. Human studies show the exact opposite. In human colon cancer lines fish oil causes the death of the cancer cells and reduces the metastatic behavior. Population based studies in humans on higher Omega 3 levels show the same things. Fish oil also reduces most forms of Inflammatory Bowel disease including ulcerative colitis, a higher Omega 3 levels show the same things. Fish oil also reduces most forms of Inflammatory Bowel disease including ulcerative colitis, a precursor to colon cancer.
In most cases the misrepresentation is due to one of three things:
1) ignorance, 2) laziness, 3) deliberate hyperbole by copywriters.
None of it is helpful to the reader!
My advice: take enough fish oil to get to the Paleolithic level 0.8
Omega 6 to Omega 3, which for most Americans would be 6 grams a day.
The internet is a mixed blessing. Everyone can claim expertise and lots of stuff just gets spread out of control with no one looking at it critically.
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