Omega 3: a novel treatment agent in oral submucous fibrosis

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Oral submucous fibrosis (OSF) is a chronic insidious disease which sometimes even extends to the pharynx. The condition has also been described as idiopathic scleroderma of mouth, idiopathic palatal fibrosis, and sclerosing stomatitis 1.It is known for its high rate of malignant transformation which is about 2.3%–7.6% 3. Epidemiological evidences strongly indicate the association of the betel quid (BQ)/areca nut‐chewing habit and OSF 1.
Numerous treatment modalities have been attempted in the past with varying results, largely due to the resistant nature of this condition to therapy. Patient is advised to completely quit the habit of betel nut chewing. Medicinal therapy includes iron, multivitamins including lycopene, pentoxifylline, local submucosal injections of steroids, hyaluronidase and chylomicrons, aqueous extract of healthy human placenta, and curcumin. But none of them helps in complete remission of the disease. Surgical excision of the fibrous bands is performed for severe cases 4.
Omega‐3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated essential fatty acid as humans cannot synthesize them de novo and must depend on dietary source. Recent studies have investigated the beneficial effects of omega‐3, polyunsaturated fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) on chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel diseases, chronic periodontitis, and recurrent aphthous stomatitis 5. It is also shown to have anti‐inflammatory and antineoplastic activity 10 with minimum side effects.
However, the role of omega 3 in OSF has never been assessed yet. As OSF has high malignant potential and is a chronic inflammatory disorder, a pilot study was designed and conducted to study the clinical effects of omega 3 in such patients.

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