Although the best advice for smokers is to quit smoking, for those who continue with their habit a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids may improve the function of the cells lining blood vessels (endothelial cells), according to findings published in the International Journal of Cardiology.
“Treatment with omega-3 PUFAs improved endothelial function and the elastic properties of the arterial tree in healthy smokers, with a parallel anti-inflammatory effect,” wrote researchers from the University of Athens Medical School.
“The effect of omega-3 PUFAs on vascular endothelium and endothelial activation provides a novel mechanism by which omega-3 PUFAs affects vascular compliance, which requires further investigation.”
To date, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been linked to improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency of thrombosis, blood pressure and heart rate improvements, and improved vascular function.
The Greek researchers recruited 20 healthy smokers to participate in their randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or omega-3 (2 grams per day, giving 0.92g of EPA and 0.76g of DHA daily) for 12 weeks. A four week ‘washout’ period then followed and the participants were crossed over to the other group.
Results showed that, compared with placebo, the omega-3 supplements were associated with a pre-smoking significant improvements in flow mediated dilation (FMD – a measure of blood flow and vascular health) and PWV (pulse wave velocity, a measure of the stiffness of arteries).
Unsurprisingly, cigarette smoking detrimentally affected both FMD and PWV, but omega-3 supplements were found to ‘blunt’ this smoking-induced impairment, said the researchers.
In addition, the omega-3 groups displayed improvements in levels of the pro-inflammatory markers TNF-alpha and IL-6.
“These findings suggest that omega-3 PUFAs inhibit the detrimental effects of smoking on vascular endothelium,” wrote the researchers.
“The cardioprotective effects of omega-3 PUFAs appear to be due not through a single mode of action but to a synergism between multiple, intricate mechanisms involve anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic effects.”
Source: International Journal of Cardiology
Volume 166, Issue 2, Pages 340-346
“Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on endothelial function, arterial wall properties, inflammatory and fibrinolytic status in smokers: A cross over study”
Authors: G. Siasos, D. Tousoulis, E. Oikonomou, et al.