May 1, 2007/The West Australian (Perth) -- Green tea and fish oil may be the answer to reducing inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis and kidney disease, a U.S. report says.

It found that an ingredient in green tea may provide therapeutic benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis because of the way it inhibits molecules contributing to inflammation and joint damage.

Called EGCG, the compound was found to inhibit the production of several molecules in the immune system that contribute to inflammation and joint damage.

"Our research is a very promising step in the search for therapies for the joint destruction experienced by people who have rheumatoid arthritis," lead researcher Salah-uddin Ahmed, from the University of Michigan, told the Experimental Biology 2007 conference in Washington.

The researchers isolated cells which form a lining of the tissue surrounding the joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and incubated them with the green tea compound.

EGCG has been found in animals to reduce the symptoms of other auto-immune diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome, a disease that attacks salivary glands, causing a dry mouth and the inability to produce tears.

The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil will be studied in kidney disease patients in a Queensland University of Technology study. Patients undergoing dialysis will be given daily doses of fish oil and tested for changes in inflammation and appetite.

Regular doses of fish oil have been shown to decrease inflammation, which is a common problem in kidney disease patients.

"Patients with kidney disease on dialysis experience a range of complications thought to relate to chronic inflammation," dietitian Rachel Zable said. "They can have poor nutritional status, disturbed appetite and a lower quality of life."

Fish oils have anti-inflammatory properties due to a high concentration of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 that protects the body against damage from infection and cholesterol, Ms Zabel said.

With one in three people in Australia at risk of developing chronic kidney disease, improving the quality of life of patients was essential. "While fish oil won't cure kidney disease, it may provide a better quality of life for sufferers," she said.

Royal Perth Hospital is conducting a study looking at the effect of fish oil and aspirin on reducing blood clots and improving the lives of patients on dialysis.

From the May 9, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash