The Benefits of Fish Oil in Preventing Alcohol-Related Dementia

Alcohol dementia is caused by chronic alcohol drinking, which results in the impairment of the sufferer’s mental processing. Alcohol dementia is common in people aged 65 and up. The symptoms of this health condition may appear early. However, it usually progresses slowly and can be reversed when symptoms are caught immediately.

According to a study led by researchers from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, occasional consumption of alcohol or defined as a bottle or two for men and one alcoholic drink for women could help condition the brain and improve the functions of brain cells by aiding with the reduction of stress. Nevertheless, excessive intake of alcohol can overwhelm the brain cells which lead to inflammation and cell death.  .

Alcohol dementiaAdditionally, the Alzheimer’s Society also supported the result of the negative effect of alcohol in the brain, and they stated that Alcohol-related dementia or Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome may affect 1 out of eight people with alcoholism. Furthermore, it shows that males aged 45-65 with a history of alcohol misuse are commonly affected by Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome.

Aside from lifestyle modification and alcohol abstinence, A recent study suggests that Omega-3 or fish oil could also help reduce the risk of alcohol-related dementia.  Researchers from the same university again made a research to determine whether fish oil can really help cut a person’s risk of Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome.

During the said study, the researchers have used adult rat brain cells which they exposed to large quantities of alcohol or the amount similar with the alcohol limit for driving that exceeded at least four times the normal. Other brain cells were also exposed to the fish oil or Omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the same amount of alcohol given to the other.

According to the results, the brain cells that were exposed with fish oil and alcohol had 95% less neuron inflammation and neuronal death compared with the brain cells that were exposed with the same amount of alcohol without the fish oil. Michael Collins, of Loyola University Chicago and study author says,

“We quantitate the neuronal death caused by the binge alcohol, and find that the presence of DHA significantly reduces or suppresses the neuronal death as much as 95%.

The brain contains substantial levels of endogenous DHA in membranes that is reduced by the binge alcohol, and the supplementation prevents this loss. Also, there are certain critical ‘neuroinflammatory’ enzymatic steps that are thought to lead to the neuronal death, possibly by increasing oxygen free radicals, and while these are increased by the alcohol treatment, they are greatly reduced by the DHA cotreatment.”

He also added, “This could lead to human studies with fish oil, which is remarkably nontoxic as far as I know,”  The team aims for more future research to take place in order to discover more benefits of fish oil in the preventing the development of neuro-degeneration and functional memory impairments in adult rats.

The result from the research that is presented at the 14th Congress of the European Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism in Warsaw, Poland, may be promising but Prof. Collins still promotes best preventive measures such as abstaining from alcoholic drinks or drinking in moderate amounts. He said, “We don’t want people to think its okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol.”


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