Increased Omega-3 Levels May Help Improve Quality of Life for People With COPD

New study examines possible connection between levels of plasma omega-3 and symptoms of COPD

MIAMI (June 25, 2024) - An increased level of plasma omega-3 fatty acids may help decrease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) flare-ups and improve the quality of life for those with the lung disease, according to a new study. The study is published in the May 2024 issue of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation, a peer-reviewed, open access journal.

COPD is an inflammatory lung disease, comprising several conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and chronic cough. People with COPD can also experience exacerbations, or flare-ups, where the person's breathing, cough or mucus production is worse than usual and may not respond as well to medications.

This new study examined whether there was a relationship between plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels and the occurrence of moderate COPD exacerbations, as well as respiratory-specific quality of life. Omega-3 fatty acids have previously been connected to anti-inflammatory responses.

"In our study cohort, we found that higher plasma omega-3 levels were connected to a decreased risk for moderate exacerbations, as well as better respiratory quality of life, particularly for people with moderate to severe COPD," said Nadia N. Hansel, M.D., MPH, a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician and professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and senior author of the study. "Examining plasma omega-3 gives us more accurate data than when examining self-reported dietary intake of omega-3 and helps reduce the burden on study participants to recall their food consumption."

The observational study was conducted over a six-month period, and all participants were former smokers with moderate to severe COPD, who participated in the Comparing Urban and Rural Effects of Poverty on COPD (CURE COPD) study.

"The positive results in this small study cohort showcase the need for more in-depth, larger research studies on the role of omega-3 fatty acids and COPD symptoms," Dr. Hansel said. "Further research is needed to continue to bring attention to the role of nutrition and dietary supplements, particularly the benefits of a diet high in omega-3, in managing COPD and overall lung health."

To access current and past issues of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation, visit


About the COPD Foundation
The COPD Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help millions of people live longer and healthier lives by advancing research, advocacy, and awareness to stop COPD, bronchiectasis, and NTM lung disease. The Foundation does this through scientific research, education, advocacy, and awareness to prevent disease, slow progression, and find a cure. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Brittany Irish