Maintenance therapy for Crohn’s disease includes immunosuppressive drugs, with an associated risk of infection.

Might omega-3 fatty acids be an alternative?

First, the details.

  • Results from the Epanova Program in Crohn’s Studies (EPIC-1 and EPIC-2) were evaluated.
  • More than 750 patients with quiescent Crohn’s disease were randomly assigned to receive either 4 grams/day of omega-3 free fatty acids or placebo for up to 58 weeks.
  • Their Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (CDAI) score was less than 150.
  • No other treatments for Crohn’s disease were permitted.

And, the results.

  • Relapse at 1 year in EPIC-1 was 32% with omega-3 and 36% with placebo.
  • Corresponding values for EPIC-2 were 48% and 49%.
  • Serious adverse events were uncommon and mostly related to Crohn’s disease.

The bottom line?
In an earlier study, an imbalance in consumption of fatty acids, vegetables, and fruits was associated with increased risks for Crohn disease among Canadian children. Another reported a decreased ratio of n-6 to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid was associated with a poor prognosis in Japanese patients. Otherwise, there is little evidence supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids in Crohn’s disease.

This latest study indicates, “Treatment with omega-3 free fatty acids was not effective for the prevention of relapse in Crohn’s disease.”

4/9/08 22:04 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, a complementary and alternative medicine website.