A double-blind, placebo-controlled study indicates that fish oil supplements in the amount of 3 grams per day may benefit patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The study was published in August 2004 in the Journal of Rheumatology.
In previous animal studies, fish oil supplementation had a beneficial effect on mouse models of systemic lupus erythematosus. In addition, copper can decrease the formation of lupus erythematosus cells in rats. Many previous studies in SLE patients have used heroic doses of fish oil—on the order of 9 grams per day. The current study, however, used much lower doses of fish oil.
Researchers randomly divided 52 patients with SLE into one of four treatment groups. One group received 3 grams of the Omega-3 fish-oil derived fatty acid EPA and 3 mg copper, another group received 3 grams EPA and placebo copper, a third group received 3 mg copper and placebo fish oil, and the fourth group received both placebo capsules. The researchers then measured disease activity by using the Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM-R). Researchers also took peripheral blood samples for routine hematological, biochemical, and immunological indices at the study's start, and at 6, 12, and 24 weeks.
In subjects consuming fish oil, there was a significant decline in SLAM-R score from 6.12 to 4.69 compared to subjects consuming a placebo. No significant effect on SLAM-R was observed in subjects taking copper. None of the indices measured in the blood samples were affected by either intervention.
The researchers concluded, " In the management of systemic lupus erythematosus, dietary supplementation with fish oil may be beneficial in modifying symptomatic disease activity."
Duffy EM, Meenagh GK, McMillan SA, Strain JJ, Hannigan BM, Bell AL. The clinical effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils and/or copper in systemic lupus erythematosus. J Rheumatol. 2004 Aug;31(8):1551-6.
The Omega-3 Fatty Acids from fish oil, EPA and DHA, are found in Omega-3 Fish Oil and Neptune Krill Oil.