Researchers from Northern Ireland say that people with the immune disorder lupus might be able to reduce their symptoms with the fatty acids found in fish such as tuna and salmon. In what is the largest study of its kind, the researchers studied the effect of fish oil supplements in 52 patients with active lupus over six months.
All the participants who took the fish oil saw improvements in quality of life, inflammation and fatigue.
System lupus erythematosus--commonly referred to as lupus--is a disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue throughout the body, causing painful or swollen joints, unexplained fever, skin rashes, kidney problems, cardiovascular complications and extreme fatigue. Lupus is a complex disease and the exact cause is unclear. There is currently no effective treatment to stop its progression, although steroids and other drugs are used to manage symptoms.
Recently, researchers have been looking at managing the disease through diet. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils and some other foods have raised particular interest because they are thought to fight inflammation and affect immune function. They found that some patients taking steroids and taking the fish oils actually reduced their dose (of steroids) toward the end of the study.
Participants took either fish-oil supplements three times per day, a copper supplement, copper plus fish oil or a placebo. The copper was of no benefit. People with lupus could get the benefits seen in her study by increasing their intake of fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon.
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