Omega-3 from fish and primary prevention in multiple sclerosis
In multiple sclerosis, the immune system damages the sheath that protects nerve fibres (facilitating their function), affecting the brain and spinal cord and causing problems in muscle movement, balance and vision, among others. Multiple sclerosis develops in various forms: relapsing-remitting (the most frequent form, affecting more than 80% of people with multiple sclerosis: bouts are unpredictable and there is no progression between remissions); secondary progressive (between 30-50% of patients who initially suffer relapsing-remitting MS go on to develop secondary-progressive: the degree of disability persists and worsens between bouts); primary-progressive (affecting 10% of all patients with multiple sclerosis: no defined bouts, but constant worsening); and progressing-relapsing (continuous progression from the start but with clear acute bouts). The onset of multiple sclerosis is usually between the ages of 20 and 40, although it can occur at any time (but is very rare in children) and affects three times as many women as men. The exact cause of the disease is not known, nor is there a definitive cure, but drugs and physical and psychological therapy help alleviate the symptoms, slow the progress of the disease (in some types) and maintain a good quality of life.
In a multicentre case-control study carried out between 2003 and 2006 in Australia, a validated questionnaire was used to record the dietary habits of the cases aged between 18 and 59 years with a first clinical diagnosis of demyelination and controls of a comparable age, sex and location.
After analysing the data, it was concluded that higher consumption (in g/day) of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly from fish (rather than vegetables), were associated with a lower risk of a first clinical diagnosis of demyelination. No relationship with other types of fats was observed.
- Hoare S, Lithander F, van der Mei I et al.; Ausimmune Investigator Group. Higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with a decreased risk of a first clinical diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination: Results from the Ausimmune Study. Mult Scler. 2015 Sep 11. pii: 1352458515604380. [Epub ahead of print]
- Esclerosis múltiple España