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Date: 30 April 2007 

Fish oil may help kidney disease sufferers

Fish oil, it's been touted as an answer to Alzheimers, arthritis and even weight-loss but now a Queensland University of Technology researcher will test its health benefits in people with chronic kidney disease.

Dietitian Rachel Zabel, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, will investigate the effects of fish oil on patients with kidney disease undergoing dialysis.

Ms Zabel said daily doses of fish oil in the form of a tablet or liquid had been shown to decrease inflammation - a common problem in people with kidney disease.

"Research shows that patients with kidney disease on dialysis experience a range of complications thought to relate to chronic inflammation," she said.

"They can have poor nutritional status, disturbed appetite and a lower quality of life."

Ms Zabel said fish oils had known anti-inflammatory properties due to their high concentration of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA).

"EPA has been used successfully in other population groups with chronic inflammation including people with osteoarthritis and cancer cachexia, however the anti-inflammatory effects have not yet been applied to patients on dialysis," she said.

As part of Ms Zabel's study, participants will be given a daily dose of fish oil, and tests will be conducted to measure changes in inflammation and appetite.

The 12-week study will seek to determine the success of fish oil as a treatment option for inflammation in people with chronic kidney disease.

Ms Zabel said, with one in three people in Australia at risk of developing chronic kidney disease, improving the quality of life for sufferers was essential.

"The incidence of chronic kidney disease is increasing," she said.

"One in seven people over the age of 25 have at least one clinical sign of chronic kidney disease and every day five Australians commence dialysis or transplantation to stay alive.

"While fish oil won't cure kidney disease, it may provide a better quality of life for sufferers."

The study is being conducted in collaboration with the Wesley Hospital.

Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon, QUT media officer, 07 3138 4494 or ml.mcmahon@qut.edu.au
- Sandra Hutchinson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2130 or s3.hutchinson@qut.edu.au

 

Researcher Rachel Zabel