Sunday, May 11, 2008

Can Fish Oil Help with Barrett's Esophagus?

This is a topic that is close to my heart. My father struggles with this condition and he's not alone. So, first I'd like to explain what Barrett's Esophagus is and why you may want to consider fish oil if you've got it.

What is Barrett's Esophagus?

Barrett's esophagus is a relatively-rare condition that is caused by chronic exposure of the esophageal tissue to stomach acid. It's basically an extension of what you'd experience with gastric reflux disease (GERD) but higher-up.

If you have this condition you're at higher risk for a deadly form of cancer called esophageal cancer.

More Info. About Barrett's Esophagus

What does fish oil have to do with Barrett's Esophagus?

Population-based studies have found that Barrett's esophagus may be less common in areas where fish is eaten regularly.

Researchers have also determined that omega-3 fatty acids (like fish oil) can help to lower inflammation in conditions like Barrett's esophagus.

What did a recent study conclude? Is fish oil a possible tool in the fight against Barrett's Esophagus and possibly a preventive agent against esophageal cancer?

First, let's be clear. This is only a preliminary study. But, the results of this research are promising. Here's why:

1. Researchers provided 27 patients with 1,500 mg of fish oil (in the form of EPA - a fatty acid found in fish) for six-months. Another 25 patients were provided with a placebo (an inactive agent) as a control for the study.

2. The researchers found that the 27 patients, who took the fish oil, had a higher level of EPA in their esophageal tissue. This is important because it shows that the affected tissue was directly being impacted.

3. Another important finding is that the 27 fish oil patients also had a lower level of COX-2 concentrations. COX-2 proteins are a marker of inflammation. And, as you can imagine, Barrett's esophagus has a strong-inflammatory component (because of the stomach acid corroding the esophageal tissue).

4. The 25 patients, in the control group, did not show any significant changes in their condition (as expected).

What's the take-home message, in your opinion?

If you have Barrett's esophagus, you may want to ask your doctor about adding fish oil to your diet.

I know that it's something that I would personally consider.

Any other comments?

Yes. Fish oil isn't for everyone. I certainly believe it's a valuable supplement (and food) but there are some instances where it may not be appropriate.

If you're on any medication or have any pre-existing health condition, please inquire and research about any known interactions or contraindications prior to adding any supplement to your routine.

Want to see the original study? Great! Check it out.

Fish Oil May Soothe Barrett's Esophagus

The Vitamin Tutor

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