Boosting intake of omega-3 'could ward off' Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease Call for at-risk people to eat more oily fish.

GPs should encourage patients to consume a diet rich in omega-3 to lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, findings of new UK research suggest.

Speaking at the annual Alzheimer's Research Trust conference in London last week, Professor John Harwood, from the University of Cardiff, said research had shown that increasing dietary intake of omega-3 could halve the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

'We are currently carrying out studies in mice that have been fed a diet enriched with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the active ingredient found in omega-3,' he said.

'The mice on the DHA diet did better in cognitive tests compared with mice that were not on the enriched diet. We are working on the hypothesis that this is down to the anti-inflammatory properties of DHA.'

Professor Harwood told GP that patients should be encouraged to consume omega-3, in the form of oily fish, from early age.

'This is something that patients can do relatively easily and cheaply and should help to lower the risk of Alzheimer's.

'Omega-3 has clear benefits in reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and arthritis, so it cannot do any harm to increase your intake.'

Current NICE guidance advises people at risk of, or who have, CVD to eat at least one portion of oily fish a week.

Professor Harwood added that NICE dementia guidance should also recommend that patients eat oily fish.

Professor Simon Lovestone, from the Institute of Psychiatry, told the conference that the next five to 10 years could see a breakthrough in the development of treatments for Alzheimer's.

'There are 10 or 11 drugs that are in late stage clinical trials, as well as 70 to 80 more drugs in early stage development.

'There is a good chance that one of these drugs will work.'

But Professor John Hardy, from the Institute of Neurology, University College London, warned that a lack of commitment and funding for research along with bureaucracy could slow new drug development.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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