Fish oil reduces age-related blindness

October 14, 2009

New U.S. study shows that intake of fish oil may reduce the incidence of age-related blindness by 30%

There seems to be no end to blessings from fish oil.

Fish oil is the end stages in the development of omega-3 fatty acids which is transformed from alpha-linolenic acid in a number of processes to E.g. eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which then are converted to prostaglandin E 3 with a wide range of health-promoting properties.

The fish oils EPA and DHA are some of the strongest anti-inflammatory nutrients, we can consume. This is probably one of the reasons why they reduce the risk of blood clots, but they also reduces blood triglycerides, reduces inflammation in rheumatic diseases, enhances children’s learning capacity, reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia (pregnancy–induced high blood pressure) and premature birth, and gives brighter children from pregnant women who took fish oil and much more.

It is indeed difficult to see the end of the health-promoting properties, we can get from fish oil, and new scientific findings seems to emerge all the time which support its use.

Thus, even last week when researchers from the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, MD, USA, 7 October published a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Scientists have over 12 years studied 1,837 people with moderate to severe risk of age-related central blindness in the form of central atrophy or macular degeneration.

For both types of blindness, it appeared that the incidence was 30% lower in the group that took the most fish oil (0.11% of total caloric intake) compared with the group that took the least.

Although previous studies have been uncertain in its conclusions, the authors believe that the figures can be generalized, this is both a cheap and readily available intervention opportunity against risk families with high incidence of these diseases.

In times when the collective consensus have shouted in our ears that we should eat less fat, it is important to use common sense, read the research properly and stand firm.

Fat is healthy, and fat is vital!

One should obviously not wallow in margarine, french fries and chips, but make sure to eat well from the healthy fats as olive oil and especially fish oil.

It can be ingested as a liquid, as capsules, or as very attractive food.

Fish is not only healthy but also tastes very good indeed. Many people are nevertheless troubled by the increasing presence of heavy metals in fish, but if you avoid the large predatory fish as swordfish and tuna, there is significantly less in for example salmon and trout, especially if they are caught in clean rivers and lakes.

There are however problems with farmed fish, which often contains pretty much omega-6 fat, due to the fish feed composition. And this we should avoid. We already get far too much omega-6, especially linoleic acid, found in the cheap cooking oils with corn and sunflower oil, so as to avoid further bias, we must select the oily fish that are caught in the wild and not farmed.

We must remind you that in a previous newsletter we described two studies that showed that even eggs contain substances that prevent the age-related central blindness, so it may be, we soon will see a Danish ban against bread with eggs and herring. In Denmark food is not allowed to prevent a disease!

Enjoy your meal.

By: Claus Hancke, MD 

References:
• Sangiovanni JP, Agron E, et al. Omega-3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and 12-y incidence of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and central geographic atrophy: a prospective cohort study from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, Am J Clin Nutr, 2009 Oct 7 (E-pub. Ahead of print)
• Mares JA, Larowe TL, et al. Predictors of optical density of lutein and zeaxanthin in retinas of older women in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an ancillary study of the Women’s Health Initiative. Am J Clin Nutr., 2006, 84(5): 1107-1122.
• Wenzel AJ, Gerweck C, et al. A 12-wk egg intervention increases serum zeaxanthin and macular pigment optical density in women. J Nutr., 2006; 136(10):2568-73.