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Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as a potential treatment for reducing dysmenorrhoea pain: Systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Snipe R, Brelis B, Kappas C, Young J, Eishold L, Chui J, Vatvani M, Nigro G, Hamilton L, Convit L, Carr A, Condo D (2023) Nutrition & Dietetics 2023 Aug 6 2023 Aug 6. doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12835 

Web URL: Read this article on PubMed

Abstract:

Aim: This systematic literature review with meta-analysis aimed to determine the effect of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on prostaglandin levels and pain severity in women with dysmenorrhoea and identify adverse side effects.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, MEDLINE complete, CINAHL and AMED databases (PROSPERO CRD42022340371). Included studies provided omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to a control in women with dysmenorrhoea and reported pain and/or prostaglandin levels. A random effects meta-analysis with Cohen's d effect size (95% confidence interval) was performed in SPPS for studies that reported pain outcomes. Study quality was assessed using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Quality Criteria Checklist.

Results: Twelve studies (n = 881 dysmenorrhoeal women) of predominantly neutral quality (83%) were included that provided daily supplementation of 300-1800 mg omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids over 2 or 3 months. Meta-analysis (n = 8 studies) showed a large effect of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (d = -1.020, 95% confidence interval -1.53 to -0.51) at reducing dysmenorrhoea pain. No studies measured prostaglandin levels, 86% of studies measuring analgesic use showed a reduction with omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and few studies reported mild adverse side effects in individual participants.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that daily supplementation of 300-1800 mg omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids over 2-3 months are generally well tolerated and reduces pain and analgesic use in women with dysmenorrhoea. However, the neutral quality of research is limited by methodological issues and the mechanism of action remains to be determined.