Fish oil and aspirin could be the key to beating a host of devastating chronic diseases, according to new research.
Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston found that the two work together to combat the inflammation responsible for a host of illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Both aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids from fish are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on their own, but the research shows that, when taken together, they can control the overactive immune responses associated with long-term illnesses.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and foreign bodies.
When something harmful or irritating affects a part of the body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, and the symptoms of inflammation show that the body is trying to heal itself.
But if the person suffering has a high-fat diet, too much body fat or is a smoker, for example, they may not be a break from the irritants, so the immune system can lose control, increasing risk of disease.
Long-term, inflammation can become chronic, which can then damage heart valves and brain cells, causing strokes and promoting resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes.
It is also associated with the development of cancer.
Aspirin is used by millions of people to keep heart attacks and strokes at bay. The drug is used to thin the blood, which reduces the risk of clots.
It works by helping to trigger the production of molecules called resolvins that are made naturally by the body from omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oils have long been heralded for their beneficial effects on the brain, bones and heart
These resolvins ‘resolve’ the inflammation that underlies the health conditions which blight the lives of millions.
Omega-3 is found in oily fish, particularly salmon and sardines, as well as chicken, nuts, kale and spinach as well as vegetable oils.
One resolvin called D3 was found to have an especially long-lasting anti-inflammatory effect.
The researchers said: ‘In this report, we found that one resolvin, termed D3 and from omega-3 fatty acid, persists longer at sites of inflammation than either resolvin D1 or resolvin D2 in the natural resolution of inflammation in mice.
‘This finding suggests that this late resolution phase resolvin D3 might display unique properties in fighting uncontrolled inflammation.’
The researchers also confirmed that aspirin triggered the production of a longer-acting form of resolvin D3 through a different pathway.
The team were able to produce a pure form of both resolvin D3 and aspirin-triggered resolvin D3.
When administered to human cells, both of these showed highly potent anti-inflammatory actions.
The research was published in the journal Chemistry & Biology.