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Thread: Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

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    Veteran Member mellowsong's Avatar
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    Default Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

    Bill Sardi
    Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, December 11, 2013
    Just seven months ago National Eye Institute researchers claimed fish oil “doesn’t seem to help macular degeneration,” (1) a sight-robbing eye disease that plagues adults in their senior years.
    So how could another newly published study produce exactly opposite results? In fact, fish oil didn’t just slow down the insidious progression of this eye disease, it restored vision to every patient placed on high-dose fish oil. It was therapeutic and curative, not just preventive.
    The study I’m referring to is likely to be dismissed. The study group was small - only 25 patients. There was no inactive placebo pill given to another group of patients for comparison, a requirement for scientific validity. And it’s also possible (but not plausible) that all the patients in the study were abjectly deficient in omega-3 fish oils, producing an atypical effect. But the study group was based in the Mediterranean where fish consumption is high. And it’s not likely any placebo effect was involved.
    The study is so convincing, especially when combined with all of the positive fish oil studies conducted over the last decade (see chart below), eye physicians would now be derelict in their duty not to recommend every long-living senior adult to consume more fish, or better yet - take concentrated fish oil capsules, if they want to maintain their sight throughout their retirement years.

    Growing evidence
    The study I’m referring to was just published in the PharmNutrition journal. (2) It raises many questions, particularly why has it taken so long to discover high-dose fish oil can restore lost sight to many Americans. The data pointing to fish oil as a dietary agent that can stave off vision loss with advancing age has been growing for over a decade.
    Except for one “fishy” study, all other human clinical fish oil studies published over the past 13 years indicate fish oil slows down or prevents macular degeneration, a sight-robbing condition that affects central vision used for reading, driving and face recognition.
    The latest published study was more momentous than prior studies as it didn’t just show fish oil slows down the progression of the disease; it actually began to restore vision to patients within days of starting a daily regimen of high-dose fish oil capsules.
    Slowing macular degeneration down is one thing, but reversing it is another. There is no cure for the common form of the disease, called dry macular degeneration. Antioxidant dietary supplements recommended for this disease slow down its progression by maybe 10 percent at best.
    Macular degeneration patients began experiencing improvement in visual acuity from the get-go. After six months a third of the patients could see letters that were three lines smaller on the eye chart. Another third saw two lines better and the remaining third a single line of improvement.
    100% of patients with macular degeneration experienced improved vision when the normal course of the disease is insidiously progressive loss of central vision.

    High dose
    The dose of fish oil was the highest used in any study so far — 5000 milligrams (3400 mg EPA, 1600 mg DHA), or a bit less than two tablespoons a day. That much fish oil is likely to be costly for retirees on fixed incomes, around two dollars a day. A six-month six-month course would certainly be worth the investment, especially when some seniors might be able to renew their driver’s license or resume activities that help them stay independent.
    The one “fishy” negative study was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May of this year. (3) National Eye Institute researchers said fish oil "doesn't seem to help age-related macular degeneration."
    That study compared a low dose of omega-3 fish oil with an antioxidant formula providing lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper (no true placebo group or inactive pill was used). The dose of fish oils in the treatment group was much lower than prior studies.
    Some skeptical researchers I have consulted express concerns over the fact this study was conducted largely among well-nourished subjects who likely eat a lot of fish in their diet. I’m informed that the comparison group consumed up to 720 milligrams of fish oil from their daily diet. Also some study subjects in the comparison group may have been supplementing with folic acid which raises blood levels of omega-3 oils. (4) Researchers concede that “study results may not be generalizable, because the study population is a highly selected group of highly educated and well-nourished people.” Was the study rigged to fail?
    http://www.orthomolecular.org/resour...s/v09n28.shtml

    This article may be reprinted free of charge provided 1) that there is clear attribution to the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, and 2) that both the OMNS free subscription link http://orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html and also the OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml are included.

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    Default Re: Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

    I had hoped, as I began reading, that this approach might affect my friend with macular degeneration, but upon reading the entire article... probably not. Formerly nutrition-conscious, she has been on an assisted living diet for so long that she is poorly nourished to begin with, and couldn't afford the $2/day for 6 months in the hope of improvement for which there is no promise.
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    Default Re: Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

    This is interesting. Thanks, Mellow. Fish oil is recommended for ARMD by opthalmologists, but not in such high doses. Usually what's recommended is a little gelcap that contains maybe a quarter-teaspoon of fish oil, which is probably not enough to do much good.

    My mother had ARMD, which tends to be hereditary. Therefore, I eat fish that's high in DHA/EPA several times a week (sardines packed in olive oil, salmon)--sometimes twice a day or even every day for a week or so. I eat a LOT of fish as a precaution and because I like it, and so far so good. I also take about a tablespoon of fish oil daily (Nordic Naturals Omega-3 liquid, which is considered top of the line). Unfortunately, at least here in the US, neither fish nor high-quality fish oil is cheap. In addition to the cost, many people have an aversion to fish or shellfish and won't touch it, which is really unfortunate.

    Also interesting, Dr. Barry Sears recommends high-dose fish oil as an analgesic for arthritis pain. However, he considers "high-dose" to be about one tablespoon, whereas this article recommends just under two tablespoons. One caveat: fish oil is supposedly a blood thinner if taken in high enough amounts.
    Last edited by Lovemywesties; 12-12-13 at 12:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

    As a child of 3 or 4, I remember being given a spoonful of cod liver oil every day in winter. Despite its strong flavor I did not dislike it. Whatever else my upbringing was remiss in, they got the nutrition part right!
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    Default Re: Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

    I remember reading on mercola about astaxanthin being the big player on macular degeneration. I noticed above zeaxanthin is mentioned, is that similar?

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/ar...than-vitamin-e

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    Default Re: Something’s Fishy About Macular Degeneration Fish Oil Studies

    Sorry, don't have an answer for you, Grulla, just wanted to chime in with the value of greens: collards, kale, chard, spinach, beet & turnip greens etc. I've even taken to canning them since organic greens are so hard to find in winter. The low incidence of macular degeneration among blacks in the South is attributed to their high consumption of greens, especially collards.
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