In a study conducted in Australia, the addition of high-dose fish oil to conventional treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) improved treatment outcomes. These results were published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Some previous studies have suggested that fish oil may improve the symptoms of RA, but few studies have addressed this question during the current era of RA treatment. Current RA management often involves a “treat-to-target” approach, with close monitoring of RA disease activity and as-needed adjustments to medications. This approach has improved outcomes for many patients.
To explore the effects of fish oil in a current population of RA patients, researchers in Australia conducted a study among recently diagnosed patients. All patients started treatment with a combination of three disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine) and were managed in a treat-to-target approach.
In addition to conventional RA treatment, patients also received either a high dose or a low dose of fish oil. Patients who received the low dose of fish oil served as the comparison group.
Patients who received the high dose of fish oil were less likely to experience a treatment failure and more likely to achieve a remission.
These results suggest that even with current RA treatment strategies, the addition of high dose fish oil may provide benefits to people with early RA.
Reference: Proudman SM, James MJ, Spargo LD et al. Fish oil in recent onset rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial within algorithm-based drug use. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Early online publication September 30, 2013.