(NaturalNews) Ongoing research continues to support the effectiveness of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acid supplements in boosting heart health, lowering blood pressure, easing inflammation and decreasing pain in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
Blood pressure and cardiovascular health
In an article published in May 2012 in the journal Systematic Reviews, researchers from Ottawa Hospital Research Institute reviewed the results of 65 prior randomized clinical trials, two controlled clinical trials and one observational study on the risks, benefits and drug interactions from a number of commonly used dietary supplements including omega-3 fatty acids. Based on this review, they concluded that omega-3 supplements led to a significant decrease in triglyceride levels when combined with cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The study was only one of the most recent to provide strong evidence that omega-3s are good for your heart. For example, the large Nurses Health Study has found that higher intake of omega-3s decreases women's risk of dying from a heart attack by 33 percent, while the Physicians Health Study found that it cuts men's risk by an astonishing 80 percent.
Indeed, the Mayo Clinic has granted a grade of "A" to the body of scientific research supporting the benefits of omega-3s and fish oil in lowering triglycerides and the risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have found significant decreases in the rates of heart attacks among those taking omega-3 supplements, as well as significantly lower rates of death not just from cardiovascular disease but also deaths from all causes.
The Mayo Clinic has also granted a grade of "A" to evidence that high daily omega-3 intake can cause small but significant decreases in blood pressure.
However, because omega-3s can increase the risk of bleeding, it is recommended that heart patients consult a doctor for advice on a safe supplementation dose.
Inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis
Omega-3s have also been well established as potent anti-inflammatories, a benefit that earned another "A" from the Mayo Clinic. Even one or two daily capsules can apparently significantly reduce systemic inflammation.
This may explain some of the more specific health benefits that omega-3 supplementation provides, such as relief of seasonal asthma (an inflammatory condition). Omega-3s have also been shown to provide some relief to the symptoms of lupus, and may reduce the severity of inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease enough to allow patients to reduce their doses of anti-inflammatory drugs or even stop taking them altogether.
The Mayo Clinic also gave a grade of "A" to studies showing that rheumatoid arthritis patients taking regular fish oil supplements experienced less stiffness and joint pain, to a degree comparable to that from over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs.
This is by no means a complete list of the potential benefits to fish oil and omega-3s, which may also decrease the risk of certain cancers and age-related cognitive decline, for example. The Mayo Clinic lists more than 70 other potential health benefits that have been supported by preliminary scientific research, but that still need to be fully confirmed in large clinical human trials.