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Fish oil could protect against alcoholic-related memory loss

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New research from Loyola University reveals that omega-3 fish oil might help protect against alcohol-related dementia.

The study, led by Michael A. Collins, PhD, was conducted on rats, showing that fish oil could protect the rodents' brains from cell death and inflammation that occurs when exposed to high levels of alcohol.

Brain cell cultures tested

Collins and his team exposed cultures of rat brain cells to the amount of alcohol equivalent to four times the legal amount for driving. They then compared these cultures to cultures that were not only exposed to the same amount of alcohol, but also to a compound in fish oil called omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Cells that were exposed to DHA and alcohol showed about 90 percent less neuroinflammation and death than cells only exposed to alcohol.

“Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in abusers,” Collins said. “At the very least, it wouldn’t hurt them.”

Moderation is key

Collins also noted that protecting brain health in the long run has more to do with cutting back on alcohol than taking a supplement. Moderate drinking can stress cells, thus toughening them up in order to cope with major stressors that cause dementia, a press release on the study stated. But too much alcohol can overwhelm the cells, causing inflammation and death.

“We don’t want people to think it’s okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol,” he said.

More studies on how fish oil protects against alcohol-related dementia would be helpful, Collins concluded .

Source: Loyola University