Increased Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels Associated With Reduction in Hip Fracture Risk
“Inflammation is associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation,” stated senior author Rebecca Jackson, who is a professor of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Ohio State. “So we asked if we would see fractures decrease in response to omega-3 intake.”
The study compared 324 women with a history of hip fracture who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative with an equal number of subjects without hip fracture matched for age, hormone use and race. Stored blood samples were analyzed for red blood cell omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Women whose total omega-3 fatty acid levels were among the top one-third of participants had a 45% lower risk of hip fracture in comparison with those whose levels were among the lowest third. For those whose levels of the omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) were among the top third, the risk was 56% and 54% lower, and women whose omega-6 to omega-3 ratio was among the top third had almost double the risk.
“One thing that was critically important was that we didn’t use self-report of food intake, because there can be errors with that,” Dr Jackson noted. “We looked directly at the exposure of the bone cell to the fatty acids, which is at the red blood cell level. Red blood cell levels also give an indication of long-term exposure to these fatty acids, which we took into account in looking for a preventive effect.
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