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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Won't Prevent Crohn's Relapse
Date:4/8/2008

Despite earlier promise from small trial, new study finds no effect

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 free fatty acids don't help prevent relapses in patients with Crohn's disease, concluded two studies published in the April 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"These studies are quite definitive," said study lead author Dr. Brian Feagan, professor of medicine and director of Robarts Clinical Trials at the Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. "The bottom line is, if you're looking to prevent a relapse of Crohn's disease, these are not effective and there are other drugs that work."

Other experts, however, wondered if the dosing used in the study had anything to do with it.

"Maybe there's a perfect dose and maybe this one was too high," said Dr. Timothy Pfanner, assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a gastroenterologist with Scott & White. "There are a bunch of medications we use now in Crohn's disease that when you start going high, there's either no benefit or a diminishment of response."

Crohn's disease involves an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that most often affects the lower part of the small intestine. Swelling leads to pain and diarrhea. The disease can go into periodic remission but relapses can occur.

Although there are drugs available to help prevent relapse, there is still a need for safe and effective medications. "The drugs we use now, the toxicity can be pretty high," Pfanner said. "You add one more thing on and someone can get critically ill and it's not from the Crohn's disease."

Omega-3 free fatty acids are anti-inflammatory substances found in oily cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. They are used to treat inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.


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