Fish oil doesn't fight Alzheimer's

Don’t be shad, but a rigorous new study concludes that DHA fish oil supplements don’t fight Alzheimer’s disease. (Sorry, I codn’t resist the bait.)

Previous studies that relied on circumstantial evidence — like finding less dementia among people who eat lots of seafood — raised hopes that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil would slow the mental and functional decline of Alheimer’s disease. Hopes were particularly high for an omega-3 called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA.

To put DHA to the test, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University and Portland Medical Center randomly assigned 402 people with mild to moderate Alzheimers to take DHA supplements (2 grams per day) or a placebo for 18 months.

Alas, DHA had no benefit, based on clinical assessments of patients’ cognitive and functional abilities, and rates of brain atrophy measured by MRI imaging.

The study appears in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study did not assess other possible benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to include reducing heart disease and depression.

And, of course, you can always take fish oil supplements just for the halibut.

— Marie McCullough 

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