Omega-3 fatty acids and incident type 2 diabetes: the Singapore

January 1, 2011 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Omega-3 fatty acids and incident type 2 diabetes: the Singapore

Year: 2011
Authors: Brostow, D.P. Odegaard, A.O. Koh, W-P. Duval, S. Gross, M.D. Yuan, J-M. Pereira, M.A.
Publication Name: Am. J. Clin. Nutr.
Publication Details: Volume 94; Pages 520-526.


The role of omega-3 (n3) fatty acids (FAs) in the development of type 2 diabetes is uncertain, especially with regard to any differential influence of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The objective was to examine the association between total omega-3 FAs, marine omega-3 (EPA, DHA), non-marine omega-3 (ALA), and omega-6 (n6) FAs and omega-6:omega-3 ratio and risk of type 2 diabetes in a Chinese population in Singapore. The analysis included 43,176 Chinese men and women free of chronic disease, aged 45 to 74 y, in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Baseline data collection occurred between 1993 and 1998 with follow-up interviews between 1999 and 2004. Cox regression models were used to examine the associations between FA intakes at baseline and risk of developing diabetes. Increased intakes of total omega-3 FAs were inversely associated with diabetes incidence [hazard ratio (HR) for the fifth compared with the first quintile: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.65, 0.94; P for trend = 0.02]. Omega-3 FAs from marine sources were not associated with diabetes risk, whereas non-marine omega-3 FA intake was strongly associated (HR for the fifth compared with the first quintile:0.79; 95% CI: 0.67, 0.93; P for trend = 0.004). Omega-6 and omega-6:omega-3 ratio were not associated with incidence of type2 diabetes. Consumption of non-marine sources (ALA) of omega-3 FAs is associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese Singaporeans. [Authors Abstract]
This study found a strong association between plant based ALA omega-3 and diabetes risk and no association between the disease and marine based omega 3. It is speculated that ALA may affect the development of diabetes by modulation of insulin sensitivity in phospholipid membranes. It is also recognized that pant and marine omega 3 FAs can have different effects on pathways at a molecular level, and ALA in particular may be associated with improved insulin sensitivity/glucose tolerance in animal models. It is also important to note that omega-3 intake does not occur in isolation, and ALA may be found in conjunction with beneficial components such as fiber. Strengths of the current study include the use of a food-frequency questionnaire that was specifically developed and validated in the population and has been shown to be internally consistent and reproducible. The prospective nature, high participant response rate, detailed collection of data through face-to-face interviews, very low level of participants lost to follow-up, and validated diabetes case status are other strengths make this a powerful study. [Editors comment]

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