No Magic Pills For Alzheimers

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 3:50pm

Study finds fish oil supplements, touted as preventative for memory loss, are no help to Alzheimer's patients.

There's been some evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids protect against memory loss, but now new research suggests such supplements may be nothing more than brain candy when it comes to Alzheimer's Disease.

Omega-3's are arguably one of the most popular dietary supplements.

Found naturally in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and herring, they're often touted to protect against memory loss.

In the new study from researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University And Portland VA Medical Center, early Alzheimer's patients who used omega-3 supplements saw no benefit.

Dr. James Powers is a geriatrician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

He says he wasn't surprised that the fish oil did not help Alzheimer's patients because once the disease sets in there really isn't any good way of stopping it.

However, Dr. Powers says it's possible Omega 3's may still offer brain benefits by helping keep the heart healthy.

"Fish oil is known to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and to reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries," he explains.

That just might keep your memory intact longer.

"Hardening of the arteries is very highly associated with the onset of dementia including Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Powers.

Doctors and researchers say there's no magic pill to prevent aging or the memory loss that often comes with it, but they say fish oil supplements are generally safe and just might help you someday.

Researchers involved in the current study on fish oil supplements agree an earlier intervention may be key and hope to study the effect in people at risk for Alzheimer's Disease.

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