Small study indicates fish oil may stave off psychotic illness.

The AP (2/2, Johnson) reports that “fish oil pills may be able to save some young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia,” according to a study published in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. For the study, investigators “identified 81 people, ages 13 to 25, with warning signs of psychosis,” then randomized 41 of them “to take four fish oil pills a day for three months” at a “daily dose of 1,200 milligrams.”

The Los Angeles Times (2/1, Healy) “Booster Shots” blog reported that “for a year after” the study “was completed,12 weeks of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oil reduced progression to full-blown psychosis in a large group of adolescents and young adults,” while simultaneously improving “many of the symptoms that identified these young patients as likely schizophrenics and bipolar disorder sufferers.” In fact, “roughly 5% of those on fish oil went on to develop full-blown psychosis during the study period, versus 28% of those who got psychotherapy alone.”

WebMD (2/1, DeNoon) reported, “No other intervention, including psychiatric” medications, “has achieved as much for so long after treatment stopped.” Unlike antipsychotic medications, “fish oil pills have no serious side effects.”

Reuters (2/2, Harding) noted that fish oils may be used someday to stave off or even prevent psychotic or bipolar illness as well as substance abuse disorder and depression. BBC News (2/2) and the UK’s Press Association (2/2) also cover the story.

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