Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and the Ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fatty Acids Consumption among Women in the Adventist Health Study-2

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Lupus. 2023 Nov 5:9612033231213145. doi: 10.1177/09612033231213145. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To assess the associations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids consumption, and the ratio between the two, with self-reported doctor told Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) diagnosis. Further, to assess whether initiation of omega-3 supplements intake was related to time/year of SLE diagnosis.

METHODS: Data from 42,398 women in the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort were used for this cross-sectional study. Unconditional logistic regression modeling was used for all analyses with the following candidate covariates: age, race, education, smoking, and body mass index (BMI).

RESULTS: Compared to non-cases, participants with a diagnosis of SLE reported higher intakes of total omega-3 fatty acids and about the same intakes of omega-6 fatty acids. Overall, they had higher ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. When assessing odds ratios of SLE diagnosis by quartiles of omega-3 to omega-6 and DHA+EPA to omega-6, there was a positive significant trend (p trend = 0.005). Additionally, among those reporting intake of fish oil, 87% had initiated fish oil consumption around the time of SLE diagnosis. SLE was more likely to occur among Black women compared to White women, among ever smokers compared to never smokers, among overweight women compared to women with normal/underweight, and among women 50-59 years compared to those 30-49 year old. When a smaller 6 year follow-up study identified 64 incident SLE cases and assessed their omega-3 intake at baseline (6 years earlier and before the SLE diagnosis) their intake of omega-3 and fish oil was no different than among non-cases.

CONCLUSION: We observed a significant positive association between the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids consumption and prevalence of SLE. Among those with prevalent SLE, their year of starting supplementation of omega-3 and fish oil was closely linked to year of SLE diagnosis. Further, baseline intake of omega-3 fatty acids was not increased among 64 incident SLE cases identified during 6 years of follow-up. Our surprising finding can best be explained by reverse causation. This could be an example of how public health information is assimilated and acted upon by a health conscious public.

PMID:37927031 | DOI:10.1177/09612033231213145

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