Fish Oil Slows Cognitive Decline, With Caveats

Alan R. Jacobs, MD


October 09, 2014

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This is the Medscape Neurology Minute. I am Dr Alan Jacobs. Researchers at the Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University have published a retrospective study in a group of older adults involved in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, examining the relationship between fish oil supplement use and indicators of cognitive decline.[1] The group included 229 patients who were cognitively normal, 397 with mild cognitive impairment, and 193 with Alzheimer's dementia. Patients were assessed with neuro-psychological testing and brain MRI every 6 months. Primary outcomes included global cognitive status, cerebral cortex gray matter, and hippocampus and ventricular volumes. Results showed that fish oil supplement use during the study was associated with a significantly lower rate of cognitive decline as measured by the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale and the Mini-Mental State Examination, but only in participants free of dementia at the time of enrollment. Moreover, in patients with normal cognition at baseline, those who reported taking fish oil supplements demonstrated less brain atrophy in one or more of the MRI regions of interest, compared with those who did use the supplements. Finally, associations between fish oil supplement use and outcomes were observed only in APOE-e4 negative participants. The researchers concluded that the use of fish oil supplementation shows promising effects in the realm of cognitive aging and Alzheimer's disease, and deserves wider study. This has been the Medscape Neurology Minute. I'm Dr Alan Jacobs.


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