A new study has been undertaken to find out how healthful natural compounds known as Omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in fishes like salmon and albacore, help us protect against chronic diseases.
The ongoing study is conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist Darshan S. Kelley and co-investigators are helping uncover new details about how these fish-oil components help protect us from chronic diseases.
In an early study with laboratory mice, Kelley and colleagues investigated the interplay of two omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil-DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)-and a third fatty acid, CLA (as trans-10, cis-12 CLA) found in some dietary supplements.
Kelley's 8-week test with 50 laboratory mice indicated that DHA protected the animals against two harmful side effects of CLA: LA-induced insulin resistance and CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease.
In contrast, EPA offered only partial protection against CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and provided no protection against insulin resistance.
If untreated, insulin resistance can lead to diabetes. An estimated 36 million to 57 million Americans are insulin-resistant. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can result in cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. The study appeared in a 2007 issue of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.
Their review underscores the need for new investigations, with larger numbers of volunteers.
Such research might reveal more about the mechanisms of action that DHA and EPA use, the sites upon which they act in the human body, and the genes that control these mechanisms.