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Omega-3 Oils Can Protect Women From Infertility


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Women who consume a diet rich in essential Omega-3 oils are at a less risk of being infertile, whereas those ladies whose diets are loaded with trans fats may be more likely to develop endometriosis, the debilitating condition that causes infertility, U.S. researchers reported earlier this week.

In endometriosis, pieces of the womb lining, called endometrium, are located outside of the womb. The tissue grows during the woman's menstrual cycle as it does in the womb, but becomes trapped. In some cases the condition causes severe pain and is associated with infertility, affecting about 10 per cent of women. Experts are still trying to find out what can be causing endometriosis, and find a possible treatment. Symptoms are normally cured with pain relievers, hormonal drugs or surgery.

In their new study, American scientists analyzed dietary habits and other data from more than 70,000 women who took part in the U.S. Nurses Health Study. The study, the largest to have analyzed the relationship between diet and female infertility, followed the women for 12 years starting in 1989. They asked the participants to fill out food questionnaires every four years up till 2001, and then evaluated the numbers of who went on to develop endometriosis.

It was revealed that those women who consumed the most tuna, salmon, mackerel and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, were almost 22 per cent less likely to develop endometriosis. The results demonstrated that while total fat in the diet was not important, the specific type of fat women were eating was associated with the risk of the condition. Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids can be found mostly in oily fish. They have also been linked to reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Walnuts and flaxseeds are also considered good sources of omega-3.

The study also found that women whose diets were highly loaded with harmful trans fats (chemically altered vegetable oils), had a 48 per cent more risk of developing endometriosis. The major sources of trans fats in the study were fried foods from restaurants, margarine, crackers, cakes, biscuits, pies and chips. In addition, the experts found that the highest contributors towards endometriosis were mayonnaise and full-fat salad dressing.

Dr. Stacey Missmer, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, America, and a lead author of the study, said that this research gives the professionals a strong indication that they are on the right path in identifying food rich in Omega-3 oils as beneficial for preventing endometriosis and trans fats as harmful.

The findings were reported on March 24 in the journal Human Reproduction. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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