A new study with rats suggests that omega-3 fish oil might help protect against alcohol-related dementia.
Researchers from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine found that a fish oil compound protected against inflammation and cell death in the brain cells of rats exposed to high levels of alcohol.
The study, led by Michael A. Collins, PhD, was reported at the 14th Congress of the European Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism in Warsaw.
Collins reported that he and his colleagues exposed cultures of adult rat brain cells to amounts of alcohol equivalent to more than four times the legal limit for driving. These cultures were compared with cultures of brain cells exposed to the same high levels of alcohol, plus a compound found in fish oil called omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The researchers found there was about 90 percent less neuroinflammation and neuronal death in the brain cells exposed to DHA and alcohol than in the cells exposed to alcohol alone.
Further studies are needed to confirm whether fish oil protects against alcohol-related dementia, Collins noted.
“Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in abusers,” he said. “At the very least, it wouldn’t hurt them.”
But he added that best way for an alcohol abuser to protect the brain is to quit drinking or cut back to moderate amounts.
“We don’t want people to think it’s okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol,” he said.
Source: Loyola University Health System