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Gamma-linolenic acid supplement may help reduce blood pressure in postmenopausal women

Reuters Health - 25/02/2021 - Postmenopausal women who take gamma-linolenic acid supplements in addition to vitamin E may experience larger reductions in blood pressure than those taking vitamin E alone, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 81 postmenopausal women who were randomly assigned to take either vitamin E alone or combined with 1,000 mg of borage oil, which is rich in gamma-linolenic acid, for six months.

At six months, mean systolic blood pressure in the group taking the borage oil-vitamin E combination dropped to 127.00 mmHg from 138.75 mmHg at baseline, compared with a decline from 131.36 to 130.73 mmHg among women on vitamin E alone. Mean diastolic blood pressure fell to 83.50 mmHg from 89.88 mmHg at baseline among women on gamma-linolenic acid, compared with a decrease to 85.12 mmHg from 86.59 mmHg among women on vitamin E alone.

"The gamma-linolenic acid may be an alternative for maintaining or decreasing systemic arterial blood pressure," said senior study author Dr. Jose Maria Soares Junior, a professor of gynecology and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Hospital das Clinicas, Faculdade de Medicina de Sao Paulo, in Brazil.

"The benefits of treatment can disappear after stopping supplementation, however, if the participants make lifestyle changes with exercise and adequate nutrition, they will maintain the benefits," Dr. Soares said by email.

The study didn't include women who consumed alcohol or who took anti-inflammatory drugs, both of which can block absorption and metabolism of gamma-linolenic acid, the study team notes in Menopause. One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on dietary habits, which may also have influenced the outcomes.

The daily dose of linoleic acid in the study could lead to more meaningful outcomes among women whose diets contain very little linoleic acid, but less meaningful among women who get a lot of dietary linoleic acid, said Matti Marklund, a senior research fellow in food policy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"Unfortunately, there is no information about the habitual diet of the participants in this study," said Marklund, who wasn't involved in the research.

It's also not clear from the study results whether the blood pressure outcomes attributed to gamma-linolenic acid might have come from other fatty acids in the supplements women took during the study, said Edmond Kabagambe, assistant vice president for outcomes research at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Even though the study attributes blood pressure outcomes to gamma-linolenic acid, the supplement used in the study contained many fatty acids including eicosanoic acid, regular linoleic acid and arachidonic acid, Kabagambe, who also wasn't involved in the study, said by email.

"I am not able to attribute the lower blood pressure to gamma-linolenic acid," Kabagambe said. "The closest conclusion I can get to is that use of a cocktail of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids including gamma-linolenic acid in hypertensive postmenopausal women is associated with lower systolic blood pressure when compared to a vitamin E placebo capsule."

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3pTcxFg Menopause, online February 1, 2021.

By Lisa Rapaport

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