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The onset of psychoses could be prevented or delayed by fish oils

(Vienna, 11-08-2015) Treatment with fish oil capsules containing polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids could prevent the onset of psychosis in adolescents and young adults. That is the finding of a study conducted at the University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MedUni Vienna in collaboration with Orygen – the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health of the University of Melbourne, which has now been published in the leading journal "Nature Communications".

The newly published results are based on the findings of a study from 2010, when the University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MedUni Vienna noticed that taking fish oil capsules containing polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of developing psychosis by 22% over the course of a year.

The follow-up data for 71 patients aged between 13 and 25 years, obtained over a period of 6.7 years, are now available. "There was found to be a dual long-term effect: on the one hand, the risk of developing psychosis can be considerably reduced and, on the other, the onset of psychosis can be postponed by giving fish oils," explain the authors of the study. In the group that received the high-dose Omega-3 fatty acids, the risk of developing psychosis fell to 9.8%. This value was 40% for the placebo group.

According to the researchers, these newly published results make us more hopeful of being able to delay and possibly prevent the development of psychotic disorders in risk groups, even on a long-term basis, using a natural substance. However, the results need to be confirmed in a second study. This is already underway and MedUni Vienna is again playing a significant role. 

Two to three percent of the population suffer from psychosis
Psychotic disorders affect at least two to three percent of the population. In most cases they first appear in adolescents or young adults but then often follow a chronic course and have serious consequences for sufferers and their families. So far very little research has been done into preventive treatment approaches. There are signs which help to identify patients who are at high risk of developing psychotic disorders. It is very rare that a psychosis appears suddenly "as if from nowhere". In most cases mild symptoms have already been present for weeks or months. The research work focuses on assessing treatment with fish oil capsules in this so-called prodromal phase.

Five research clusters at MedUni Vienna

In total, five research clusters have been established at MedUni Vienna. In these clusters, MedUni Vienna is increasingly focusing on fundamental and clinical research. The research clusters include medical imaging, cancer research/oncology, cardiovascular medicine, medical neurosciences and immunology. This work falls within the remit of the medical neuroscience cluster.