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Diet rich in fish and flax may help prevent broken hips in postmenopausal women

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Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in blood could cause reduction in risk of postmenopausal women suffering from hip fractures, a new research has suggested.

In the research, scientists analyzed red blood cell samples from women with and without a history of having a broken hip.

The study showed that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids from both plant and fish sources in those blood cells were associated with a lower likelihood of having fractured a hip.

In addition to omega-3s, the researchers looked at omega-6 fatty acids, generally plentiful in a Western diet. The study also showed that as the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s increased, so did the risk for hip fracture.

Rebecca Jackson, the study's senior author and a professor of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at The Ohio State University, said that the inflammation is associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation.

She said that they didn't use self-report of food intake, as there can be errors with that and looked directly at the exposure of the bone cell to the fatty acids, which is at the red blood cell level.

Jackson said that the RBC levels also give an indication of long-term exposure to these fatty acids, which we took into account in looking for a preventive effect.

The researchers used blood samples and hip fracture records from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a large national prospective study of postmenopausal women that enrolled participants between 1993 and 1998 and followed them for 15 years.

For this new work, the sample consisted of red blood cell samples and records from 324 pairs of WHI participants, half of whom had broken their hips before Aug. 15, 2008, and the other half composed of age-matched controls who had never broken a hip.

The analysis showed that higher levels of total omega-3 fatty acids and two other specific kinds of omega-3s alone were associated with a lower risk of hip breaks in the study sample.

On the other hand, women who had the highest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids had nearly twice the risk of hip fractures compared to women with the lowest ratios.

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