A COMBINATION of aspirin and fish oil could be the best way to tackle chronic diseases such as arthritis, scientists have found.
Both low-dose aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids from fish are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on their own. But research has shown that taken together they can control the overactive immune responses that are linked to long-term health problems.
Doctors have long hailed the benefits of aspirin and oily fish but exactly how they worked in the body to boost health was not fully known.
Now US researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston have shown that the breakthrough lies in their ability to combine and deliver a double blow to inflammation.
Aspirin helps trigger the production of key molecules called resolvins that are made naturally by the body from omega-3 fatty acids. These resolvins then shut off, or “resolve”, the inflammation that underlies the health conditions which blight the lives of millions.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and outside irritants. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of the body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, and the symptoms of inflammation show that the body is trying to heal itself.
But when there is no break from the irritants, for example because of a high-fat diet, too much body fat and smoking, the immune system can spiral out of control and increase the risk of disease.
When it stays out of control over the long term, inflammation becomes chronic and that is when it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes and promote resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It is also associated with the development of cancer.
Millions of people take a low-dose aspirin every day to stave off heart attacks and strokes.
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