Sep 27, 2013

    Benefits of omega-3 on women unclear

    WOMEN who consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids may not have better thinking and memory skills as a result, according to a new study.

    Some researchers have suggested that fatty acids found in fish and fish-oil supplements could protect against memory loss.

    But studies trying to test that theory have been "all over the place", said Dr Jennifer Robinson from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, senior author of the new report.

    To address the uncertainty, she and her colleagues compared women's fatty-acid levels to their performance in six years' worth of thinking and memory tests.

    The study included 2,157 women aged 65 to 80, and looked at their levels of two omega-3 fatty acids. The researchers also adjusted for the effects of hormone therapy in women who were taking it.

    In seven kinds of thinking and memory tests, Dr Robinson and her colleagues found no difference between the one third of women with the lowest omega-3 levels and the one third with the highest levels.

    That was after taking into account other health and lifestyle factors, like whether the women smoked and how much they exercised.

    Dr Alan Dangour, who has studied fatty acids and memory at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said omega-3 is important for brain development early in life. But after that, the data gets a bit fuzzier.