(Relax news) - On the heels of a recent study that finds fish oil can reverse the negative effects of junk food on the brain comes more good news: fish oil supplements could also help reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, a new Harvard University study has found.
Fish oil supplements, also called omega-3 fatty acid capsules, raise levels of the hormone adiponectin, which has been linked to insulin sensitivity. High levels of adiponectin have been associated with lower risks of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
"While prior animal studies found fish oil increased circulating adiponectin, whether similar effects apply in humans is not established," the study's lead author, Jason Wu from the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a news release.
For their study, the researchers conducted an analysis of 14 clinical trials involving 682 subjects who were treated with fish oil, with 641 given a placebo, such as olive or sunflower oils. In those taking fish oil, adiponectin levels increased by 0.37 micrograms per milliliter of blood.
Since the effects of fish oil varied significantly in the studies analyzed, the researchers suggested that omega-3 fatty acids could have a stronger effect in certain groups of people -- but more research is needed to determine which groups would receive the most benefit from fish oil supplementation.
"Although higher levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream have been linked to lower risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease, whether fish oil influences glucose metabolism and development of type 2 diabetes remains unclear," said Wu.
"However, results from our study suggest that higher intake of fish oil may moderately increase blood level of adiponectin, and these results support potential benefits of fish oil consumption on glucose control and fat cell metabolism."
The study, announced this week, is slated for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.