Confidence in Science

Dear reader of Fats of Life, In case you’ve been having doubts about keeping the faith in science, this issue of Fats of Life will help you revive your confidence that science keeps advancing in healthy directions. New findings in biology and medicine keep occurring while we all try to stay oriented in the information jungle. We help you better appreciate a tiny part of the fascinating advances in the world of polyunsaturated fatty acids, a lively growth in the big forest of knowledge. We care for taking a close-up look at new studies, and providing additional background and perspectives, to help you better craft your opinion on polyunsaturated fatty acids – not an easy group of compounds to understand. This issue of Fats of Life looks at the potential clinical usefulness of a new ratio of two bioactive derivatives from docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid. It may help clinicians better appreciate deranged inflammation pathologies and decide when there is a need to promote the resolution of inflammation. Next, a methodological evaluation of a study carried out with EPA/DHA supplementation shows that careful attention has to be paid to measuring omega-3 tissue status in all study groups of intervention trials. We evaluate a study that reports on a new immune system-activating mechanism that is mediated by a little-known omega-3 fatty acid, hexadecatetraenoic acid n-3. A possibility for improved chemotherapy in cancer patients could lie ahead when the chemoresistance-promoting activity of this low-abundance, but highly active, fatty acid is fully understood. We take a close look at a nutritional intervention study that aimed at overcoming recognized limitations in study design. It is an illustrative example of the challenges nutrition researchers face, while we can learn new aspects of how our bodies react to the food we eat. This study looked for the first time at the endogenous PUFA status during weight loss achieved with diets of different macronutrient composition. If you still need convincing, read on. Whereas in recent years we have seen a thinned appreciation for the cardiovascular benefits of EPA/DHA, a meta-analysis published last week in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology (Maki and colleagues), and supported by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA omega-3s, has revealed that a well-defined look taken at cardiac mortality as a primary end-point, omega-3 intake, compared to placebo, resulted in an 8.0% reduction in risk of cardiac death, with larger effects demonstrated in groups with elevated levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, as well as in groups with intakes higher than 1 g EPA/DHA daily. This renewed appreciation for the “cardiovascular” benefit of EPA/DHA is of importance given the large numbers of people that die every year from cardiac deaths Science takes time. Constructing the evidence for measurable and reproducible effects in biology is a very lengthy process. Interpreting science also takes time, and the need for improvements in removing subjective interpretation and drawing on the opinions of researchers with experience in their fields is highlighted in our Guest Article. Now that you are curious, move on to explore this issue of Fats of Life. While I wrote this Editorial, the field has already advanced, so keep reading and maintain your confidence. Gerard Bannenberg, Editor