Fish Oil supplements protect GERD patients
Esophageal cancer is a serious form of cancer that starts in the inner layer
of your esophagus, the 10-inch long tube that connects your throat and stomach.
The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in Europe and the USA has increased
considerably over the past 20 years, with an increase per annum greater than
that of any other malignancy. Barrett's esophagus leads to this cancer in about
10% of sufferers. Barrett's esophagus is caused by acid reflux (frequent heartburn),
and although it can occur early in life, most sufferers are in their 40s and
50s. Although it has been reported to be a precursor to esophageal cancer, 90
per cent of patients never develop the cancer.
In this newly published study researchers from the Norfolk and Norwich University
Hospital and the Institute of Food Research recruited participants with known
Barrett's esophagus and randomly assigned 27 patients (average age 64) to receive
daily EPA supplements (three 500 mg capsules per day) and 19 patients (average
age 65) to no supplement (control group) for six months. At the end of the study,
biopsies were taken in order to measure fatty acid levels in the tissue, while
markers of inflammation were also quantified.
COX-2 is an enzyme linked to inflammation and tissue damage and is a suspect
in the dangerous changes occurring in esophageal cells of these patients. The
level of COX-2 significantly decreased in the EPA group, while there was a slight
increase in the control group. The drop in COX-2 levels was related to the increase
in the EPA content of the tissue, said the researchers. The researchers state
that a higher amount of Fish Oil is likely needed but the decrease in COX-2
indicates that Fish Oils may be protective in these patients. The study is published
in the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.