According to new research, fish oil may be a new weapon in the fight against alcoholic dementia.

People who have consumed alcohol for long periods of time are at increased risk of suffering brain damage, and dementia, from abuse on the brain’s pleasure center. Loyola University Health System scientists recently conducted a study with rats, alcohol, and omega-3 DHA—formally known as omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid.

During this study, conducted by Michael A. Collins, PhD, Edward J. Neafsey, PhD, and colleagues at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and collaborators at the University of Kentucky and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the rats were given alcohol in amounts equivalent to roughly four times the legal limit by weight for several days. Following the forced inebriation, the rats were then treated with the omega-3 DHA compound, which is found in fish oil. The findings showed that the rats who were exposed to the compound had a 90% lower occurrence of neuroinflammation and neuronal cell death.

The lead scientist on the study, Dr. Collins, said in a press release: “Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in chronic alcohol abusers. At the very least, it is unlikely that it would hurt them.” Collins added a disclaimer that the best way for someone who abuses alcohol to protect their brain is to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume to low or moderate amounts (two drinks per day for men, one for women) or quit entirely. “We don’t want people to think it is okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol.”

Further studies on fish oil and alcohol dementia need to be done on adult rats before knowing for certain if the popular health supplement will be able to actually help humans.

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