No heart benefit from omega-3 in women with type 1 diabetes

June 26, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla., June 26 - Consuming higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids does not appear to lower heart disease risk for women with type 1 diabetes, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study being presented at the 70th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.

The study, abstract number 1757-P, included 601 men and women enrolled in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, a long-term prospective examination of childhood onset type 1 diabetes that began in 1986. Participants were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1980.

Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily found in fish, promote heart health by preventing the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Little is known about the effect of consuming omega-3 in people with type 1 diabetes, who are at much greater risk for heart disease.

During the course of the study, 166 participants (27.6 percent) were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Generally, omega-3 intake among participants was low. The incidence of heart disease was lowest in men who consumed the highest quantities of omega-3 - more than 0.2 grams per day. Women who consumed similar amounts of omega-3 did not have lower rates of heart disease.

"Although omega-3 is typically associated with decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, this may not be the case for women who have type 1 diabetes," said Tina Costacou, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. "Importantly, our study suggests we shouldn't assume men and women with type 1 diabetes are the same."
-end-
Study co-authors include Cathy E. Lloyd, Ph.D., and Trevor Orchard, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. GSPH is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health issues. For more information about GSPH, visit the school's Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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