Researchers from the Oxygen Research Center in Melbourne, Australia are surprised at the results of their study showing that fish oil had a dramatically beneficial effect on the prevention of Schizophrenia in those vulnerable to the mind altering disease.
According to the director of the research center, Professor Patrick McGorry, "This research is part of a worldwide focus now, a cutting edge focus on very early treatment of schizophrenia, just like we do in breast cancer, where we're looking for the smallest breast lump and trying to prevent a potentially dangerous disease from getting entrenched. Similarly now, we're looking at that in schizophrenia. And the fish oil, surprisingly, has proved very positive at this stage of illness."
The study was a randomized control trial conducted on 81 at-risk individuals - those who had experienced brief hallucinations or delusions - between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. For a 3 month period, one half of the group received approximately 1.5 grams of a fish oil capsule while the remaining members received a placebo. Upon follow-up 1 year later, of those receiving the placebo, 28 percent had developed psychosis. Of those receiving the fish oil, about 5 percent showed signs of psychosis.
Early prevention was also cited as a key element in halting the disease. Lead researcher, Paul Amminger, states, "The risk in the placebo group was seven times as high to develop psychosis. And I think probably the reason why we saw this quite large effect is that if you receive a treatment early, even a benign treatment, early in the phase of the cause of a disorder, your effects are probably much better than later in this stage."
The study is welcomed news for those desiring to sidestep the use of anti-psychotic drugs. While the early use of these medicines can reduce the incidence of psychosis by about 12 percent, they often have undesirable side effects such as weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease.
"What we have here, it seems, is a very good and non-invasive alternative that could be safely used on at-risk people where only a proportion were ever going to develop the condition," said Professor Amminger.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which have also been shown to decrease the risks of numerous health ailments such as bipolar disorder, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The study will now be attempted to be replicated in 9 other centers around the world.
Transcript - ABC's 'Am'. Interview with Paul Amminger and Patrick McGorry by Tony Eastley, Barbara Miller Reporting. (http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2007/s2104682.htm)
Theage.com.au; "Fish Oil May Prevent Schizophrenia"