EDMONTON, CANADA. Diabetics are at significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease and any dietary intervention that could decrease this risk would be of great importance. Studies have shown that taking fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels, and blood pressure in non-diabetic individuals and thereby diminishes their risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, some early experiments with type II diabetics taking fish oil supplements reported adverse effects on glycemic control and cholesterol levels. So is there any relationship between fish oil and diabetes, and is it positive or negative?
NAPLES, ITALY. Animal studies have shown that fish oil supplementation has a beneficial effect on insulin resistance and can prevent its development in animals fed a high-fat diet. It is also known that a high fish intake can delay the development of diabetes in glucose-intolerant individuals. Researchers at the Federico II University recently set out to investigate if long-term supplementation with fish oils would improve insulin sensitivity in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM). The clinical trial involved 16 NIDDM patients (average age of 56 years) who, after a 3 week run-in period during which they received 3 olive oil capsules per day, were assigned to receive either fish oil capsules or olive oil capsules for a further 6-month period. For the first two months the participants received either 3 fish oil capsules daily (320 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 530 mg docosahexaenoic acid [EPA and DHA, respectfully] per capsule) or 3 placebo capsules (each containing 1 gram of olive oil). During the last four months these dosages were reduced to 2 fish oil or 2 placebo capsules daily. The patients were evaluated at the beginning and end of the trial and maintained their usual diet and medications (except for cholesterol- lowering drugs) during the entire trial period.
PARIS, FRANCE. People suffering from type II diabetes often have high blood levels of triglycerides and are therefore prone to coronary heart disease. Fish oils are known to be effective in lowering triglyceride levels, but concern has been expressed that they may also increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and be deleterious to glucose control.