Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega 3 and 6 oils for primary prevention of allergic disease: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Anandan C, Nurmatov U, Sheikh A. (2009) Allergy.  64(6) 840-8. Epub 2009 Apr 7. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here.


BACKGROUND: There is conflicting evidence on the use of omega 3 and omega 6 supplementation for the prevention of allergic diseases. We conducted a systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of omega 3 and 6 oils for the primary prevention of sensitization and development of allergic disorders.

METHODS: We searched The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, PsycInfo, AMED, ISI Web of Science and Google Scholar for double-blind randomized controlled trials. Two authors independently assessed articles for inclusion. Meta-analyses were undertaken using fixed effects modelling, or random effects modelling in the event of detecting significant heterogeneity.

RESULTS: Of the 3129 articles identified, 10 reports (representing six unique studies) satisfied the inclusion criteria. Four studies compared omega 3 supplements with placebo and two studies compared omega 6 supplements with placebo. There was no clear evidence of benefit in relation to reduced risk of allergic sensitization or a favourable immunological profile. Meta-analyses failed to identify any consistent or clear benefits associated with use of omega 3 (atopic eczema: RR = 1.10 (95% CI 0.78-1.54); asthma: RR = 0.81 (95% CI 0.53-1.25); allergic rhinitis: RR = 0.80 (95% CI 0.34-1.89) or food allergy RR = 0.51 (95% CI 0.10-2.55)) or omega 6 oils (atopic eczema: RR = 0.80 (95% CI 0.56-1.16)) for the prevention of clinical disease.

CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to the evidence from basic science and epidemiological studies, our systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that supplementation with omega 3 and omega 6 oils is probably unlikely to play an important role as a strategy for the primary prevention of sensitization or allergic disease.