Dietary n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Smoking-Related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Author: E Shahar, et al
Source: N Engl J Med 1994; 331:228-233
Publication Date: 7/28/1994

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Polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 series, primarily eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6), are abundant in fish and may affect numerous health-related characteristics favorably1. Extensive research has focused on the relation of these fatty acids to coronary heart disease, but more recently it became evident that they also have antiinflammatory properties1. Dietary supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid interferes with the production of several mediators of inflammation2-5 and has clinical benefit in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis6 and ulcerative colitis7. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema, referred to collectively as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are important causes of morbidity and mortality among persons who smoke cigarettes8. The pathogenic mechanisms linking cigarette smoke to these diseases are not entirely understood, but inflammatory mediators are likely to be involved,9 including those that may be influenced by n-3 fatty acids10. We therefore hypothesized that smoking-related COPD is inversely related to dietary intake of n-3 fatty acids.