A new study from Australia reports that an omega-3 fatty acid supplementation of patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis seems to reduce the risk of anti-rheumatic drug failure.
In the randomized controlled trial, patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for less than 12 months received a high dose (5.5 g/day) or a low dose (0.4 g/day) of fish oil with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in addition to three disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (1). The study results showed that the participants who received the higher dose of fish oil had a significantly reduced risk of combined drug therapy failure and a higher rate of remission of disease symptoms.
The researchers commented that earlier studies already indicated that the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids can curb stiffness and joint pain in patients with long-lasting rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints (2). In addition, fish oil supplements have shown to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. Unlike prescription medications, fish oil does not appear to slow progression of rheumatoid arthritis, only to treat the symptoms.