Omega-3 fatty acids exert a plethora of physiological actions including triglycerides lowering, reduction of inflammatory indices, immunomodulation, anti- thrombotic effects and possibly promotion of exercise performance. Their use is widespread and for commonly ingested doses their side- effects are minimal. We report a case of a 60y amateur athlete who consumed about 20 g omega-3 fatty acids daily from supplements and natural sources for a year. After the intake of cortisone and antibiotics he presented duodenum ulcer and bleeding although he had no previous history of gastrointestinal problems. Although several animal data support gastro-protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the present case they were not able to prevent ulcer generation. The present observation may be explained by (i) the high dose of omega-3 fatty acids and their effect on bleeding, (ii) the fact that cortisone increases their oxidation and may render them proinflammatory, (iii) other antithrombotic microconstituents included in the consumed cod-oil and/or the diet of the subject and (iv) the differences in the coagulation and fibrinolytic systems of well- trained subjects. Further studies are needed to substantiate any possible interaction of cortisone and omega-3 fatty acids in wide ranges of intake.
Detopoulou and Papamikos are with the Dept. of Nutrition, General Hospital Korgialenio-Benakio (Red Cross Hospital), Athens, Greece.