Clinical Conditions

Omega-3 PUFAs: Who Could Have Predicted?

Guest Article Joyce A. Nettleton, D.Sc. Past Editor, PUFA Newsletter   How far omega-3 (n-3) PUFA research has come! The 1936 medical observations of Israel Rabinowitch describing the rarity of arteriosclerosis among the Inuit of the eastern Canadian Arctic and similarly among the northwest Greenlanders led to the report of high levels of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) in Inuit plasma lipids by Bang and Dyerberg. Finally, Dyerberg and colleagues suggested that high levels of n-3 LC-PUFAs were linked to the prevention of thrombosis and CVD. The involvement of these…

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EPA Significantly Reduces Depressive Episodes in Interferon-Alpha-Treated Hepatitis C Patients

Interferons are a class of cytokines with important immunoregulatory properties, including antiviral and anticarcinogenic effects. They are especially important in the body’s innate immune response to viral infections and are widely used in the primary and adjunct treatment of hepatitis B and C viruses, cancer, such as malignant melanoma and certain leukemias, and in multiple sclerosis. However, their use is associated with several side effects, including neuropsychiatric and depressive symptoms, autoimmunity and slower motor speed. A systematic review of interferon-induced depression in patients with chronic hepatitis C reported that 1…

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Higher Serum Long-Chain Omega-3s Linked to 33% Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Whether the consumption of fish or long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) found mainly in fish and shellfish are associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is uncertain. In spite of many studies having searched for a relationship, the evidence for any risk reduction is meager. A review of 16 prospective studies on fish or seafood consumption or n-3 LC-PUFA intakes and incident type 2 diabetes concluded that there were neither harms nor benefits in terms of diabetes risk, but that alpha-linolenic acid may be associated with a modestly…

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DHA Reduced in Plasma, Placenta and Cord of Mothers with Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is one of the most common complications of pregnancy. The condition is a concern because it poses health risks to the mother and offspring and is increasing, thanks to the increase in overweight and obesity. GDM is associated with poorer perinatal outcomes, increased maternal risk of developing type 2 diabetes and greater risks of obesity and metabolic syndrome in the offspring. Estimates of the prevalence of GDM vary widely, in part because different criteria and measurements are used in different studies. For example, a U.S. study…

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Adjunct Fish Oil Enhances Disease Remission in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Use of fish oil to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis goes back more than 25 years to the work of Kremer and colleagues. High-dose fish oil as an adjunct treatment in rheumatoid arthritis is under-appreciated, in part because its effectiveness is not widely known, doses of at least 2.7 g EPA + DHA per day are required and the lag time for detecting benefits can be 2 to 3 months. Further, standard practice guidelines for rheumatoid arthritis say little if anything about its use. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD) continue…

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Diet Low in n-6 and High in n-3 LC-PUFAs Associated with Reduced Chronic Headache Pain

Clifford Woolf, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, once described pain as being “like love, all consuming” and “when you have it, not much else matters.” Shorn of its poetry, the International Association for the Study of Pain writes that pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” Most pain is transitory and resolves itself once the stimulus is withdrawn and healing is complete. Chronic pain persists even after tissues have apparently healed. Three types of pain are commonly recognized: nociceptive,…

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Effect of Breastfeeding and FADS Genes on Infant DHA Status at 9 Months of Age

The importance of long-chain (LC) PUFAs in pregnancy and early infancy is well recognized. The mother’s dietary intake largely determines her tissue stores and the concentration of these fatty acids in her breast milk. Maternal transfer during the last trimester of pregnancy and breastfeeding ensure that the infant obtains the necessary LC-PUFAs for growth, brain structure and development. Maternal diet, specifically fish intake or supplementation with omega-3 (n-3) LC-PUFAs, is the key to providing adequate amounts of n-3 LC-PUFAs for the infant. The other possible source of n-3 LC-PUFAs for…

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High-Dose EPA Associated with Less Immunosuppression from UV Radiation

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the primary cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers, the most common cancer among white-skinned individuals. Although the condition carries a very low mortality rate, morbidity and treatment costs can be high. The incidence of these cancers is increasing worldwide, with the highest rates found in Australia. In North America, the incidence increases with decreasing latitude, while skin type and sunbathing also affect the incidence significantly. In the U.S., the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer among Medicare patients—those aged 65 or more—increased nearly 77%…

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Fish Oil Pretreatment Before Exercise Linked to Some Improvements in Immune Function

The health benefits of regular exercise have been abundantly described, but for some people that is just not enough. Regular exercise—just going for a daily walk—is something you have to work into your daily routine and consider essential. Once you do, a better feeling of wellbeing, improved circulation and breathing and sometimes a happier outlook usually follows. For older adults, regular exercise, which means a planned, structured and repetitive activity such as an aerobics class or brisk walking, improves muscle strength, balance and coordination. These benefits reduce the risk of…

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ISSFAL 2012

The 10th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) convened May 26-30, in Vancouver, Canada, overlooking the North Shore Mountains, Coal Harbor and Stanley Park. Three days packed with meetings, breakfast workshops, plenary and poster sessions, exhibits and a gala dinner brought together scientists and others from 33 countries. All share an interest in current research on the biochemistry, health effects and genomics of fatty acids and lipids. The conference program and abstracts can be downloaded here. Selected highlights from the meeting include:…

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