Just in time for fun in the sun that comes along with spring and summer, there’s been an unprecedented finding on omega-3s. In the past, numerous studies on the benefits of omega-3s have been carried out on mice, but this is among the first one to be conducted on humans—and it has some significant outcomes that have been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
More specifically, researchers at the University of Manchester conducted the first clinical trial to examine the impact of omega-3s on the skin immunity of volunteers. Dr. Lesley Rhodes, Professor of Experimental Dermatology from the Photobiology Unit Dermatology Center at the University, led the analysis of the study.
Rhodes explains, "There has been research in this area carried out on mice in the past, but this is the first time that there has been a clinical trial directly in people. It has taken a number of years to get to this stage and the findings are very exciting."
And just what were their findings? Taking regular doses of omega-3s via fish oils boosted skin immunity to sunlight. In particular, the omega-3s reduced sunlight-induced suppression of the immune system, known as immunosuppression, which unfavorably affects the body’s ability to fight the adverse—and sometimes deadly—effects of the sun on skin as well as the body’s ability to fight off unwanted invaders.
Rhodes notes, “This study adds to the evidence that omega-3 is a potential nutrient to protect against skin cancer. Although the changes we found when someone took the oil were small, they suggest that a continuous low level of chemoprevention from taking omega-3 could reduce the risk of skin unhealth over an individual's lifetime."
During the study, participants took a 4g dose of omega-3s and then were exposed to the equivalent of 8, 15 or 30 minutes of simulated summer midday sun. Other participants took a placebo. The results showed that those who took the omega-3s had 50 percent lower immunosuppression after being exposed to 8 and 15 minutes of sun—but little change for the 30 minutes of sun—compared with those who took the placebo.
The study was funded by the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), and Dr. Helen Rippon, Head of Science at AICR, says, “Skin cancer has been one of the fastest growing types of cancer, and numbers will likely continue to increase. It is always exciting to see research that AIRC has funded generating such promising results, and we look forward to seeing future developments in this area.”
With the results of this study, now there's one more potential perk you can add to the growing list of benefits of getting enough omega-3s. Past studies have already indicated that omega-3s from fish oils can help maintain healthy inflammation levels, a healthy cardiovascular system, cellular health, brain function and health as well as supporting healthy joints and muscles and supporting healthy aging.
Perhaps now more than ever you’ll want to make sure your diet contains plenty of those ultra-healthy omega-3s.