The benefits of taking a fish oil supplement to reduce stress will be the focus of a Southern Cross University study funded by a new National Health and Medical Research Council grant.

Successful grant applicant Professor Stephen Myers said he was delighted the University’s research in the field of natural and complementary medicine was being supported and validated by winning such a highly competitive and prestigious grant.

“We will use the $135,000 grant to undertake a clinical trial looking at the relationship between taking fish oil and occupational stress,” he said.

“An earlier pilot study suggested that adding fish oil to the diet played a protective role in relationship to workplace stress and we will be exploring that relationship further.

“We are interested in finding out what particular types of fish oil confer the greatest benefit, as it is possible to produce specific oil blends that are higher in their composition of specific essential fatty acids which may alter their biological properties.

“The two major fatty acids in fish oil are EPA (ecosopentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

“The ratio of DHA to EPA in oils can be manipulated and we will attempt to discover which ratio gives people the greatest benefit.

“This study is using an EPA-rich fish oil which we believe to have a greater anti-inflammatory response that is likely to have a benefit in relation to stress.

“This is based on research showing a connection between stress and inflammatory chemicals in the brain.”

Southern Cross University will be working in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology, Deakin University and Wollongong University in undertaking the study, and will call for participants early next year.

PICTURE: Professor Stephen Myers, who has been successful in winning a prestigious NHMRC grant to study the role of fish oil in reducing stress.