Omega-3 fatty acids appeared to slow the progression of arthritis in a group of chubby mice. Results from a new study from Duke University shed new light on obesity, fats and arthritis, a condition 27 million Americans over the age of 25 suffer from, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases.
The study found that mice consuming a supplement of mega-2 fatty acids had healthier joints than those fed diets high in saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids, according to a release from Duke. The results suggest that unhealthy dietary fats – not just obesity – may contribute to worsening osteoarthritis.
“Our results suggest that dietary factors play a more significant role than mechanical factors in the link between obesity and osteoarthritis,” said Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., Laszlo Ormandy Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke and the study’s senior author, in the release.
While scientists knew obesity was one of the key risk factors for osteoarthritis, they weren’t sure exactly how the two were related. They figured the heavier a person was, the more likely they were to wear out their joints. But what about arthritis in the hands, which don’t bear weight? This questioning led to the Duke study.
Researchers gave mice who had osteoarthritis due to a knee injury to the joint one of three diets. One rich in saturated fat, one rich in omega-6 fatty acids and one rich in omega-6 fatty acids with a small dose of omega-3 fatty acids. The mice that ate diets high in saturated fat or omega 6 fatty acids experienced significant worsening of their arthritis, while mice consuming a small supplement of omega 3 fatty acids had healthier joints.
“While omega 3 fatty acids aren’t reversing the injury, they appear to slow the progression of arthritis in this group of mice,” Guilak said. “In fact, omega-3 fatty acids eliminated the detrimental effects of obesity in obese mice.”
The researchers are working to translate their findings to humans.
Meanwhile, in other osteoarthritis news, a compound found in broccoli could be key to preventing or slowing the progress of the most common form of arthritis, according to recent research led by the University of East Anglia.