New Study Shows Omega-3 DHA Levels Are Inversely Related to Lung Disease

August 27, 2020, Sioux Falls, SD – OmegaQuant’s William S. Harris, PhD, FAHA is an author on a  new paper on omega-3s and a condition called interstitial lung disease (ILD). ILD encompasses a wide range of disorders, most of which cause progressive scarring to the lungs. This scarring affects the ability to breathe and get enough oxygen into the bloodstream.

The omega-3 DHA reduces ILD in experimental models but human studies are lacking. For this paper, Dr. Harris and his colleagues examined cross-sectional associations with lung abnormalities observed in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), Framingham Heart Study (FHS), and Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) Study for a total study population of more than 10,000 subjects. They examined associations of circulating levels of omega-3 DHA, and other fatty acids, with hospitalization and death due to ILD over a 12-year period.

Omega-3 levels were analyzed from fasting blood samples and extracted from plasma phospholipids (MESA and AGES) or red blood cell membranes (FHS).

What Dr. Harris and his colleagues found was that DHA levels were associated with a lower risk of hospitalizations due to ILD, in addition to a lower rate of death due to ILD. Higher DHA was also associated with less interstitial lung abnormalities on CT.

“I think the take-home message of this study is that the severity of an inflammatory disease – this time in the lung – is inversely related to blood omega-3 levels,” Dr. Harris explained. “That is, after adjusting statistically for the other factors that could make one susceptible to interstitial lung disease, a low DHA level was still associated with increased risk for having ILD by lung CT scanning.”

“More importantly, a low DHA level was associated with having a greater risk of being hospitalized for ILD and for dying from ILD-related lung disorders. This research suggests that having higher circulating omega-3 levels offer significant protection in this context, which is particularly timely given the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Harris added.




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About OmegaQuant

OmegaQuant is an independent, CLIA-certified lab that offers Omega-3 Index testing to researchers, clinicians and the public and sets the standard for fatty acid testing. OmegaQuant performs fatty acid analysis in Sioux Falls, SD, for commercial and academic research collaborators, and for consumers interested in monitoring their nutritional status in both blood and breast milk. Its goal is to offer the highest quality fatty acid analytical services to researchers and to provide simple tests of nutritional status to consumers, with the ultimate purpose of advancing the science and use of Omega-3 fatty acids to improve health. Most recently, OmegaQuant formed a partnership with CSIRO to help process lab samples coming from Australia and the APAC region, with a lab based in Adelaide, Australia. OmegaQuant also has a lab partnership with the University of Stirling, based in the Scotland, to help process blood samples from Europe.


About Dr. Bill Harris

Dr. William S. Harris obtained a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota under Dr. Patricia Swan (FASN 2003) and did post-doctoral research in lipid metabolism under Dr. William Connor (FASN 1996) at the Oregon Health Sciences University. He then served as the Director of the Lipid Research Laboratories at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) and at the Mid America Heart Institute, both in Kansas City, MO, for 22 years during which time he was on the faculty at KUMC and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. In 2006 he moved to Sioux Falls, SD where he became the first Director of the Cardiovascular Health Research Center at Sanford Research/University of South Dakota (USD). He is currently a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Sanford School of Medicine at USD.

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