Diet-NutritionOmega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-6 Fatty Acids

The omega-6 to -3 ratio and survival in hemodialysis patients

Mortality in long-term hemodialysis patients is mostly attributed to cardiovascular complications, and may be related to chronic inflammation.

Researchers at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, in Torrance, California, hypothesized that the anti-inflammatory benefits of higher dietary intake of omega-3 compared with omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids might lower inflammatory processes and decrease the risk of death.

First, the details.

  • 145 adult hemodialysis patients participated in the study.
  • Their intake of dietary omega-3 and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 using a 3-day food record were monitored.
  • The 1-year change in serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and 6-year survival were recorded.
    • CRP is produced by the liver, and the level of CRP rises when there is inflammation throughout the body.

And, the results.

  • Each 1-unit higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake was associated with a significant 0.55-mg/L increase in serum CRP levels.
  • However, the risk of death did not change significantly.

The bottom line?

The authors think that using the “3-day food record may underestimate actual dietary fat intake at an individual level.” It might explain the lack of significance in the mortality rate.

They concluded, “Higher dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ratio appears to be associated with both worsening inflammation over time and a [nonstatistically significant] trend toward higher death risk in hemodialysis patients.”

6/13/11 21:40 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.