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Omega-3s During Pregnancy Reduces Kids' Eczema and Egg Allergy Risk

In a new study, researchers determined that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy reduces the risk of eczema in children by about 36%, and egg allergy by 50%. The findings are from the largest clinical to date studying the effects of omega-3 supplementation in pregnant women.

The DOMInO trial (DHA to Optimise Mother and Infant Outcome) required pregnant women in the omega-3 group to consume three 500 mg capsules of fish oil (equivalent to 900mg omega-3) per day starting from Week 21 of pregnancy. The multi-centered, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, then measured IgE-associated allergic disease (eczema or food allergy with sensitisation) at one year of age.

While the researchers reported no differences in the overall percentage of infants with IgE-associated allergic disease between the omega-3 and control groups, they did note that the incidence of eczema and egg sensitisation were lower.

They reported that children whose mothers had consumed omega-3 daily had 36% less risk of developing eczema, a 38% reduction in the chance of being sensitised to egg, and 50% less chance of having egg allergy.

Source: Effect of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in pregnancy on infants’ allergies in first year of life: randomised controlled trial

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Soluble Fibres Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Smooth move, dude.
Yet another study has confirmed that fibre reduces the risk of cancer. This study looked at breast cancer and found that every 10 g/day increase in soluble fibre intake reduced risk of breast cancer by 26% (but no similar effect was seen for insoluble fibres).

Further, the greatest risk reduction was observed for intakes over 25 g/day, said the researchers. Achieving this level of fibre intake daily may be a challenge for most people, but it's extremely important for many aspects of health. Keep in mind that 25 g/day is suggested by healthcare professionals as the minimum amount needed--the RDA, so to speak. Unfortunately, most North Americans get about 12-15 g/day.

The authors of the study suggest a few mechanisms of action as to how soluble fibres reduce breast cancer risk. The most obvious being that the gel-like mass that soluble fibres form in the intestines (must drink plenty of water though) bind/trap estrogen so it can be eliminated with bowel movements, and/or reducing the absorption of xeno-estrogens and other toxins.

Fibre may also slow down our transit time and digestion, which would decrease the absorption (rate and quantity) of glucose, leading to reduced insulin secretion. High daily intake of dietary fibre can also reduce the risk of obesity, which is an established risk factor for breast cancer. 

Source: Dietary fiber and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies

Related fibre posts:
Related breast cancer posts:

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Probiotics May Reduce Severity of Heart Attacks

Happy Chinese New Year!
According to a new study in rats, the bacteria that reside in our digestive tract may have an effect on the severity and risk of heart attack.

The study involved three groups of rats. The first group was fed a standard diet. The second group was treated orally with an antibiotic in their drinking water. The third group was fed a commercially available probiotic supplement that contains Lactobacillus plantarum 299v – a probiotic bacterial strain that suppresses the production of leptin (a protein hormone that plays a key role in appetite and metabolism).

The group fed the probiotic showed a reduction in circulating leptin levels (by 41%), smaller myocardial infarcts (29% reduction in heart damage), and improved mechanical function (23%).

Source: Intestinal microbiota determine severity of myocardial infarction in rats

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Repair Nerve Damage

A recently published study suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) could protect nerve cells and have beneficial effects on their recovery after peripheral  nerve damage. Despite the ability of peripheral nerves to regenerate, and recent medical advances, recovery from nerve damage is usually poor, and sufferers usually live with pain, muscle weakness or paralysis.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body's normal growth and development and have been widely researched for their various health benefits. Since the body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, they have to be consumed in foods such as oily fish, or through omega-3 supplements containing fish, flax, or krill oil (just to name a few).

In this new study on mice, researchers looked at the types of nerve damage caused by an accident or injury--stretching and oxygen-deprivation. The team found that both types of damage killed a significant number of nerve cells; however, they found that nerve cells enrichment with omega-3 fatty acids had significant protection and reduced the amount of cell death.

The researchers then found that a high level of omega-3 fatty acids helped mice to recover from nerve injury more quickly and more fully--and that their muscles were less likely to waste following nerve damage.

Of course, these results need to be repeated in a human clinical trial, but given the vast array of benefits from these essential fatty acids, I believe it's wise to start supplementing now (if you haven't already been taking these for years, as many of us have).

Source: Improved Outcome after Peripheral Nerve Injury in Mice with Increased Levels of Endogenous Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

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Europe Wins a Battle in the War On Terror-Foods

Here's a little bit of positive news to help you over the mid-week hump. BASF, one of the largest biotech and chemical companies in the world, has announced it will halt all GM (genetically-modified or engineered) operations in Europe due to a lack of acceptance.

That's great news for the EU, but BASF says they will relocate the headquarters of its Plant Science group from Limburgerhof in Germany, to Raleigh in the USA...not so great for us in North America. BASF will be concentrating its plant biotechnology activities on its main markets in North and South America in the future.

We are convinced that plant biotechnology is a key technology for the 21st century. However, there is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians,” said a member of the BASF board of executive directors. BASF added that the decision to relocate to the USA was taken because there is “less resistance” to genetic-engineering.

While this means BASF is admitting that Europeans don’t want GM crops, Europeans are not alone in rejecting GM food. BASF’s retreat to the Americas follows a string of defeats for the GM industry over the last two years in China, India, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, over 90% of global GM food crops are grown in just four countries in the Americas, including Canada and the US. C'mon North Americans, we gonna sit back and let the EU and Asia take the lead on this, or are we going to fight back too?

"...and when you know all along that it's just one life,
at what point does one fight?"
-- Jay-Z

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Statin Drugs for Cholesterol Increase the Risk of Diabetes

So before I get to today's study, I thought I'd share this video that had me laughing last night. Kind of mean for the parents to do this...but makes for great entertainment!  :)

LOL...poor kids. Ok well, another study has confirmed what previous studies had already determined--use of statin medications (e.g. Lipitor, Crestor, etc.) for cholesterol significantly increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The new data from the Women's Health Initiative suggests that the risk of diabetes is higher than what previous studies found, with the researchers reporting a 48% increased diabetes risk among the women taking the cholesterol-lowering medications.

The analysis included 153,840 postmenopausal women aged 50–79 years old. Information about statin use was obtained at enrollment and year three; the current analysis includes data up until 2005. At baseline, 7.0% of women were taking statins, with 30% of women taking simvastatin, 27% taking lovastatin, 22% taking pravastatin, 12.5% taking fluvastatin, and 8% taking atorvastatin. During the study period, 10,242 incident cases of diabetes were reported.

In an unadjusted risk model, statin use at baseline was associated with a 71% increased risk of diabetes. After adjusting for potential confounding variables, the risk of diabetes associated with statin therapy declined to 48%. The association was observed for all types of statins.

In my opinion, this link between statins and diabetes could be associated with the vitamin D deficiency that typically follows statin therapy. To review how statins work... they inhibit a key enzyme in the biochemical pathway in our liver that produces cholesterol. However, this same pathway is needed to produce CoQ10 and the precursor to vitamin D (which is why anyone taking a statin should be supplementing with CoQ10/ubiquinol and vitamin D3). The emphasis for diabetes being vitamin D. Here are some previous posts/studies on this topic:

In my clinical experience, high cholesterol is one of the health conditions that respond best to an assortment of natural therapies. So if your doctor wants you to take statins, talk to me first. (Just joking...I'm not about to start treating people over the internet.)

Related posts: 

Source: Statin use and risk of diabetes mellitus in postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative

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Red Wine Study Shows Breast Cancer Risk Reduction

Happy belated new year everyone! I'm off to a slow start so far this year for finding something interesting to cover. However, I've finally found the first study in 2012 worth covering, and it really is quite interesting.

Previous research has suggested that all alcoholic beverages increase the risk of breast cancer since they activate the aromatase enzyme (responsible for a key step in the production of estrogens from androgens).

Aside: This is why heavy or frequent male drinkers will often grow breasts (called gynecomastia).

By comparing levels of important hormones in people consuming a moderate amount of red and white wine daily, this new study investigated whether red wine
consumption was associated with hormonal changes that may reduce the risk of breast cancer .

The researchers found that red wine consumption was associated with increased free testosterone and lower levels of female sex hormones.

Their findings suggest that components in red wine act as aromatase inhibitors, which challenge the wide-held belief that all types of alcohol increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

So women at risk of breast cancer who enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage, may find some relief in this study, as long as they stick to red wine. Personally, I continue to prefer my Guinness, and I haven't grown breasts...yet.

Source: Red Versus White Wine as a Nutritional Aromatase Inhibitor in Premenopausal Women (full-text)

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