The Fish Foundation

Osteoarthritis

 

 

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In contrast to the literature dealing with omega-3 polyunsaturates and rheumatoid arthritis, there is not much published information on osteoarthritis and omega-3's.

Arguably the first paper was the Brunsch & Johnston paper from 1956, but since their patient group was not well defined, it is impossible to be certain.

In terms of a well defined patient group, with radiologically confirmed osteoarthritis, Stammers et al  were the first to publish, with a letter in the Lancet in 1989 reporting non-significant improvements in pain and general disability in 26  OA patients taking 10mls of cod liver oil or olive oil (plus pain-killers) daily for 6 months.

This work was followed up with a  1992 paper (Stammers et al, 1992) reporting a trial in 86  OA patients, this time using patient and physician assessments, but there were no differences evident between the cod liver oil group and the olive oil group.

Later papers have thrown some light on this, and offer the beginnings of an explanation. The first such  report suggested that the supply and/or metabolism of polyunsaturates in cartilage tissue was somehow altered in OA patients. Adkisson et al showed that cartilage tissue had abnormal polyunsaturate levels compared to muscle tissue  from the same subjects, and that cartilage from OA patients showed high levels of the omega-6 polyunsaturates, and low levels of the omega-3.

More recently, Curtis et al have shown that the long chain omega-3 polyunsaturates can actually reduce the level of cartilage degrading enzymes in cartilage, thus raising the possibility of demonstrating that the omega-3's can help to prevent loss of articular cartilage, ultimately preventing osteoarthritis.

 

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