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The purpose of this study will be to provide evidence that treatment of arthritis with high-dose fish oil supplements can improve strength and functional balance control, reduce medication requirements and improve quality of life over a 16-week period. Nearly four million Canadians are affected by arthritis. This is expected to escalate to six million in 20 years. The most dramatic aspects of arthritis include pain, activity restrictions and long-term disability. Most people affected by arthritis use non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (or other disease-modifying drugs) to reduce pain and thereby improve mobility. However, these drug therapies have been associated with gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects. An alternative to these drug treatments, high-dose fish oil supplements, has recently received elevated interest because of its effectiveness in reducing the body's inflammatory response.

We hypothesize that there will be significant improvements associated with increased levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) in functional balance abilities and strength along with a reduction in pain and falls. These improvements will be evident in improved dynamic balance during locomotion, increases in production of joint torque, lower levels of reported joint pain, reduced number of falls reported and provide an improvement in overall quality of life. In addition to the functional capacity benefits of this type of intervention, it also has the potential to reduce or alleviate the dramatic side effects of the current drugs therapies used.

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Science (Catalyst Grant: Pilot Projects in Aging).