Diabetes MellitusOmega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-6 Fatty Acids

Does dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) accounts for 5% to 10% of all patients with diabetes.

Now, The Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY) reports an association between high dietary intake of omega-3 and a lower incidence of type 1 diabetes.

First, the details.

  • 1770 children at risk for type 1 diabetes were monitored for about 6 years.
  • Risk for diabetes was defined as a genetic predisposition or a sibling or parent with type 1 diabetes.
  • Islet autoimmunity (IA, a predictor of diabetes) was compared to the dietary intake of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids starting at age 1 year.

And, the results.

  • 58 children developed IA.
  • After adjusting for genetics, family history of type 1 diabetes, caloric intake, and omega-6 fatty acid intake, higher omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of IA.

The bottom line?
An “association” does not mean one factor (lower omege-3 intake) “causes” the other (increased risk of type 1 diabetes).

According to Dr. Jill Norris in a WebMD interview, “The thinking is that omega-3 may increase the body’s ability to fight the inflammation that leads to type 1 diabetes.”

She also cautions, “This is a preliminary study. We really can’t make dietary recommendations based on these findings.”

9/29/07 20:29 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.