Diets Low In Omega-3 Linked to Depressive Behavior In Mice

Although most people in developed countries get plenty of calories each day, their diets are often lacking in key nutrients that their bodies have evolved to expect. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in fish and walnuts, are one category of crucial ingredients that the body cannot make on its own. Although these beneficial fatty acids are known to be good for heart health, researchers are just beginning to learn how omega-3s impact our brains—and by extension, our moods and behavior.

Lipids are integral to the central nervous system, and as studies of statins and diabetes drugs have shown, dropping levels of some lipids can have deleterious cognitive effects. Omega-3 deficiencies specifically have been linked to mood disorders, such as depression, but the underlying neural mechanism has been subject to debate.

New research in mice, published online January 30 in Nature Neuroscience, offers insights into just how dietary intake of these fatty acids might alter the brain’s function. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

via Diets Low In Omega-3 Linked to Depressive Behavior In Mice: Scientific American.


Melanoma Drug Prolonged Patients’ Lives in Clinical Trial

Advanced melanoma patients taking an experimental drug aimed at a particular mutation in their tumors lived longer than patients who did not receive the drug in a decisive clinical trial, the drug’s manufacturer, Roche, said Wednesday.

via Melanoma Drug Prolonged Patients’ Lives in Clinical Trial –

Strawberries, Blueberries May Ward Off High Blood Pressure

Eating just 1 cup of strawberries or blueberries each week can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The new findings appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The new study included 87,242 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II, 46,672 women from the Nurses’ Health Study I, and 23,043 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up study. During the 14-year follow-up period, 29,018 women and 5,629 men developed high blood pressure.

Men and women with the highest amount of anthocyanin from blueberries and strawberries had an 8% reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure, compared to study participants who ate the least amount of these anthocyanin-rich berries, the study showed.

via Strawberries, Blueberries May Ward Off High Blood Pressure.

Putting up a struggle against cancer

MIT scientists have discovered that cells lining the blood vessels secrete molecules that suppress tumor growth and keep cancer cells from invading other tissues, a finding that could lead to a new way to treat cancer.

Elazer Edelman, professor in the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), says that implanting such cells adjacent to a patient’s tumor could shrink a tumor or prevent it from growing back or spreading further after surgery or chemotherapy. He has already tested such an implant in mice, and MIT has licensed the technology to Pervasis Therapeutics, Inc., which plans to test it in humans.

Edelman describes the work, which appears in the Jan. 19 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine, as a “paradigm shift” that could fundamentally change how cancer is understood and treated. “This is a cancer therapy that could be used alone or with chemotherapy radiation or surgery, but without adding any devastating side effects,” he says.


via Putting up a struggle against cancer.

Woman’s voice restored after larynx transplant

A woman in the US is able to speak for the first time in 11 years after a pioneering voicebox transplant.Brenda Jensen said the operation, which took place in California, was a miracle which had restored her life.Thirteen days after the surgery she said her first words: “Good morning, I want to go home.”It is the first time a voicebox and windpipe have been transplanted at the same time and only the second time a voice box has ever been transplanted.

via BBC News – Brenda Jensens voice restored after larynx transplant.

Shingles Vaccine Cuts Disease Risk 55%

The herpes zoster vaccine, better known as the shingles vaccine and recommended for adults 60 and older, cuts the risk of getting the painful disease by 55%, new research finds.

“Compared to childhood vaccines, people would [probably] think 55% is not too impressive, because many childhood vaccines are in the range of 80% to 90% [effective],” says researcher Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

However, he tells WebMD, the 55% risk reduction ”is pretty high compared to other adult vaccines.”

Getting the vaccine makes it less likely that adults will get the painful rash that can occur when the varicella zoster virus, which causes childhood chickenpox, reactivates to cause shingles. The associated pain can last months or even years.

About a million episodes of shingles, sometimes debilitating, occur in the U.S. annually, Tseng says

via Shingles Vaccine Cuts Disease Risk 55%.

Delivering a potent cancer drug with nanoparticles can lessen side effects

Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have shown that they can deliver the cancer drug cisplatin much more effectively and safely in a form that has been encapsulated in a nanoparticle targeted to prostate tumor cells and is activated once it reaches its target.

Using the new particles, the researchers were able to successfully shrink tumors in mice, using only one-third the amount of conventional cisplatin needed to achieve the same effect. That could help reduce cisplatin’s potentially severe side effects, which include kidney damage and nerve damage.


via Delivering a potent cancer drug with nanoparticles can lessen side effects.

The Deadliest Diets

Two specific eating patterns increase the risk of death for older adults, a 10-year study finds.

Compared to people who ate healthy foods, men and women in their 70s had a 40% higher risk of death if they got most of their calories from high-fat dairy foods or from sweets and desserts.

University of Maryland researcher Amy L. Anderson, PhD, and colleagues monitored the eating patterns of 2,582 adults aged 70 to 79. They found that these diets fell into six patterns or clusters.

After adjusting for risk factors such as sex, age, race, education, physical activity, smoking, and total calories, “the High-Fat Dairy Products cluster and the Sweets and Desserts cluster still showed significantly higher risk of mortality than the Healthy Foods cluster,” Anderson and colleagues found.

via The Deadliest Diets.