Lead author Jan Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University said inflammation tends to accompany excess body fat and is linked to numerous conditions -- including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease -- as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging.
Glaser said study participants took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of active omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in their supplements. Study participants taking a placebo consumed pills containing less than 2 teaspoons per day of a mix of oils representing a typical American's daily dietary oil intake.
The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, found four months of omega-3 supplementation decreased one protein in the blood that signals the presence of inflammation by an average of more than 10 percent, and led to a modest decrease in one other inflammation marker. In comparison, participants taking placebos saw average increases of 36 percent in one protein and 12 percent in the other.
"You need this good inflammation for an initial response, but if it stays up, and inflammation becomes chronic, then you've got a problem," Glaser said in a statement. "Our research and studies done by others have shown that these two cytokines are clearly related to overall health -- and when they're elevated in the blood, that is not good for overall health."