Downstream Omega-3 Fatty Acids Beneficial for Lung Health

Longitudinal and Mendelian randomization analyses show beneficial effects of higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

FRIDAY, July 28, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Downstream omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial effects on lung health, according to a study published online June 26 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Bonnie K. Patchen, Ph.D., from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and colleagues examined the associations of omega-3 fatty acids with lung function decline and incident airway obstruction in general population cohorts. Complementary study designs were included: longitudinal study of plasma phospholipid omega-3 fatty acids and repeated forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) measures and a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study of genetically predicted omega-3 fatty acids and lung function parameters.

The researchers found that in 15,063 participants, higher omega-3 fatty acid levels were associated with attenuated lung function decline, with larger effect sizes for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the most metabolically downstream omega-3 fatty acid. An increase in DHA of 1 percent of total fatty acids was associated with an attenuation of 1.4 mL/year and 2.0 mL/year for FEV1 and FVC, respectively, and with a 7 percent lower incidence of spirometry-defined airway obstruction. Across sexes, smoking histories, and Black, White, and Hispanic participants, DHA associations persisted, with associations of the largest magnitude in former smokers and Hispanics. In the MR study, similar trends were seen toward positive associations of genetically predicted downstream omega-3 fatty acids with FEV1 and FVC.

"This study adds to growing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, which are part of a healthy diet, may be important for lung health too," coauthor Patricia A. Cassano, Ph.D., of Cornell University, said in a statement.

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