The perfect fat for our health - Omega 6

The omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA), is considered an essential fatty acid because the body can’t make it, and it has to be attained from the foods we eat. But they are healthy only in moderation.  

Omega-6 fatty acids may be useful for the following health conditions as noted by University of Maryland Medical Center: 

Diabetic neuropathy 
Some studies show that taking gamma linolenic acid (GLA) for 6 months or more may reduce symptoms of nerve pain in people with diabetic neuropathy. People who have good blood sugar control may find GLA more effective than those with poor blood sugar control. 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 
Studies are mixed as to whether evening primrose oil (EPO) helps reduce symptoms of RA. Preliminary evidence suggests EPO may reduce pain, swelling, and morning stiffness, but other studies have found no effect. When using GLA for symptoms of arthritis, it may take 1 to 3 months for benefits to appear. It is unlikely that EPO would help stop progression of the disease. So joint damage would still occur. 

Omega-6 fatty acids from food or supplements, such as GLA from EPO or other sources, have a longstanding history of folk use for allergies. Women who are prone to allergies appear to have lower levels of GLA in breast milk and blood. However, there is no good scientific evidence that taking GLA helps reduce allergy symptoms. Well-conducted research studies are needed. 
Before you try GLA for allergies, work with your doctor to determine if it is safe for you. Then follow your allergy symptoms closely for any signs of improvement. 

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
Clinical studies suggest that children with ADHD have lower levels of EFAs, both omega-6s and omega-3s. EFAs are important to normal brain and behavioral function. Some studies indicate that taking fish oil (containing omega-3 fatty acids) may help reduce ADHD symptoms, though the studies have not been well designed. Most studies that used EPO have found it was no better than placebo at reducing symptoms. 

Breast cancer 
One study found that women with breast cancer who took GLA had a better response to tamoxifen (a drug used to treat estrogen-sensitive breast cancer) than those who took only tamoxifen. Other studies suggest that GLA inhibits tumor activity among breast cancer cell lines. There is some research suggesting that a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids may promote breast cancer development. DO NOT add fatty acid supplements, or any supplements, to your breast cancer treatment regimen without your doctor's approval. 

Evidence is mixed as to whether EPO can help reduce symptoms of eczema. Preliminary studies showed some benefit, but they were not well designed. Later studies that examined people who took EPO for 16 to 24 weeks found no improvement in symptoms. If you want to try EPO, talk to your doctor about whether it is safe for you. 

High blood pressure (hypertension) 
Preliminary evidence suggests that GLA may help reduce high blood pressure, either alone or in combination with omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In one study, men with borderline high blood pressure who took 6g of blackcurrant oil had a reduction in diastolic blood pressure compared to those who took placebo. 
Another study examined people with intermittent claudication, which is pain in the legs while walking that is caused by blockages in the blood vessels. Those who took GLA combined with EPA had a reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to those who took placebo. 
More research is needed to see whether GLA is truly effective for hypertension. 

Menopausal symptoms 
EPO has gained popularity as a way to treat hot flashes associated with menopause. But so far studies have been inconclusive. If you want to try EPO for hot flashes and night sweats, ask your doctor whether it is safe and right for you. 

Breast pain (mastalgia) 
Some evidence suggests that EPO may reduce breast pain and tenderness in people with cyclic mastalgia. It may also help reduce symptoms to a lesser extent in people with noncyclic mastalgia. However, it does not seem to be effective for severe breast pain. 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) 
EPO has been suggested as an additional treatment (along with standard therapy) for MS, although there is no scientific evidence that it works. People with MS who want to add EPO to their treatment regimens should talk with a health care provider. 

Some studies suggest that people who do not get enough essential fatty acids (particularly EPA and GLA) are more likely to have bone loss than those with normal levels of these fatty acids. In a study of women over 65 with osteoporosis, those who took EPA and GLA supplements had less bone loss over 3 years than those who took placebo. Many of these women also experienced an increase in bone density. 

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) 
Although most studies have found no effect, some women report relief of PMS symptoms when using GLA. The symptoms that seem to improve the most are breast tenderness and feelings of depression, as well as irritability and swelling and bloating from fluid retention. 

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