Muscles and Eyes May Also Benefit from Omega-3 Intake
New research finds that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in seafood (long-chain omega-3s) may reduce the risk of precancerous colorectal polyps in women, enhance the muscular benefits of strength training in older women and improve eye health after corneal surgery. These findings and more are summarized in the April 2012 PUFA Newsletter and Fats of Life e-newsletters for health professionals and consumers, respectively.
Researchers reported that among women aged 50 years and up who were screened for colorectal cancer, those with the highest consumption of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs had a 77 percent lower risk of developing colorectal polyps compared with women having the lowest intakes. Colorectal polyps can lead to colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in the U.S. In another study, older women who performed three months of guided strength training combined with fish oil supplementation had greater muscle strength and function compared with women who just did strength training.
"While these new observations need to be confirmed by others, they suggest additional advantages for women from omega-3 consumption," says PUFA Newsletter and Fats of Life Editor Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc. "We need more interventions to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer."
Two additional studies cited in the newsletters document positive effects of seafood omega-3 PUFAs in the eyes. The first, conducted in animals, reported complete regeneration of corneal nerves with topical treatment of DHA, a long-chain omega-3, following corneal surgery. In the second study, increased intake of long-chain omega-3s slowed loss of visual function in adults with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic retinal disease. Those who took high-dose vitamin A and ate at least 200 mg per day of long-chain omega-3s had significantly slower loss of visual acuity compared with patients consuming less than 200 mg of omega-3s per day with the same amount of vitamin A.
"These observations suggest that long-chain omega-3 PUFAs are important to eye health throughout life," notes Nettleton. "In the case of retinitis pigmentosa, the study authors emphasize that the combination of high-dose vitamin A and at least 200 mg of long-chain omega-3s daily might allow many patients to retain visual function for most of their lives – a tremendous implication."