Archive for September, 2010

High intake of omega 3 may significantly reduce risk of chronic disease

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Intakes of omega-3 exceeding levels consumed by the general US population may significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease, suggests a new study with Yup’ik Eskimos.

High levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) were associated with lower levels of triglycerides, as well as higher levels of HDL cholesterol, according to data from 357 Yup’ik Eskimos published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Raised levels of the fatty acids were also associated with decreased levels of markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced in the liver and is a known marker for inflammation. Increased levels of CRP are a good predictor for the onset of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. CVD causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169 billion ($202 billion) per year.

The study of omega-3 intakes in inuits is nothing new. The first reports of the heart health benefits of the marine fatty acids were reported in the early 1970s by Jørn Dyerberg and his co-workers in The Lancet and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The young Danes sought to understand how the Greenland Eskimos, or Inuit as they prefer to be called, could eat a high fat diet and still have one of the lowest death rates from cardiovascular disease on the planet.

Despite the precedent of study in these populations, the new research, led by Zeina Makhoul from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, claims that: “Few studies have examined the associations of with biomarkers of chronic disease risk in populations with high intakes”.

In an attempt to fill this knowledge gap, they analysed blood levels of EPA and DHA in red blood cells of in a cross-section of 357 Yup’ik Eskimos.

Data showed EPA and DHA represented an average 2.8 and 6.8 percent, respectively, of the total fatty acid content of red blood cells.

In addition to the links between EPA and DHA levels and triglycerides and HDL, increased levels of DHA were positively with levels of LDL and total cholesterol, said the researchers.

While a link between EPA/DHA and CRP were reported, Makhoul and her co-workers noted that the link was stronger when EPA concentrations excessed 3 percent of fatty acids in the cells, and when DHA levels exceeded 7 percent.

“Increasing EPA and DHA intakes to amounts well above those consumed by the general US population may have strong beneficial effects on chronic disease risk,” they concluded.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28820
“Associations of very high intakes of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids with biomarkers of chronic disease risk among Yup’ik Eskimos”
Authros: Z. Makhoul, A.R. Kristal, R. Gulati, B. Luick, A. Bersamin, B. Boyer, G.V. Mohatt

Omega-3s anti-inflammatory mechanism revealed

Friday, September 17th, 2010

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Omega-3s may reduce inflammation by acting on a receptor found in fat tissue and on inflammatory immune cells called macrophages, according to research.

The new research published in the journal Cell, suggests the mechanisms behind omega-3’s actions as an anti-onflammatory are due to its action on G-protein-coupled receptor 120 (GPR120) working as an omega-3  FA receptor/sensor.

“Omega-3s are very potent activators of GPR120 on macrophages – more potent than any other anti-inflammatory we’ve ever seen,” said lead researcher Dr Jerrold Olefsky of the University of California, San Diego.

Anti-inflammatory

Omega-3 fatty acids have been long associated with anti-inflammatory effects; however the mechanisms behind such effects have been poorly understood.

GPR120 is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCRs) – part of a group involved in many important cell functions, and is the target of many drugs.

Previous research has suggested that five GPCRs – including GPR120 included – respond well respond to free fatty acids.

Since chronic tissue inflammation is linked to insulin resistance in obesity, the researchers used GPR120 knock-out mice to investigate if omega-3 leads to GPR120-mediated anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitizing effects in vivo.

Robust effect

Researchers found that GPR120 functions as an omega-3 receptor in pro-inflammatory macrophages and mature adipocytes.

When knock-out mice were fed a high-fat diet and treated with omega-3 fatty acids, they showed all the signs of inflammation and the insulin resistance that leads to diabetes with omega-3 having no effect.

Normal mice on a high-fat diet still gained weight, however, omega-3s “had a really robust effect in preventing inflammation,” Olefsky said.

The study also observed that by signalling through GPR120, omega-3 fatty acids mediate potent anti-inflammatory effects to inhibit certain key inflammatory signaling pathways.

The study reports that omega-3 treatment was as effective – or in some cases more effective – than the popular insulin-sensitizing drug Rosiglitazone.

The researchers noted that activation of GPR120 by omega-3s blocks not one, but all inflammatory pathways.

Interpretation

Olefsky said his team focused on GPR120 from the beginning because of where it is found – in fat tissue and on macrophages. Olefsky noted that if your goal is to fight inflammation then “that’s just where you’d want them to be expressed.”

How these findings can be interpreted for humans is not yet clear, but with a growing trend in omega-3 supplementation and increased dietary intakes of omega-3 a goal for many consumers.

Olefski says it is too early to make any formal reccomendations at the moment, but highlights that he does not see any problem with people taking omega-3 supplementations “as long as it isn’t in enormous doses.”

Olefski said that further research needs to be conducted into several – currently unknown – omega-3 mechanisms. For one, omega-3s seems to block the migration of macrophage cells into tissues – “It’s a remarkable effect, and we don’t know its action,” he added.

The researchers also pointed out that whilst omega-3s appear to be very good at activating GPR120 to reduce inflammation, the fatty acid actually has a relatively low affinity for the receptor. Olefsky commented that it is possible other small molecules could be found to work even better than omega-3.

Source: Cell

Vol 142(5) pp. 687 – 698, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.07.041

“GPR120 Is an Omega-3 Fatty Acid Receptor Mediating Potent Anti-inflammatory and Insulin-Sensitizing Effects”

Authors: D.Y. Oh, S. Talukdar, E. J. Bae, T. Imamura, H. Morinaga, W.Q. Fan, P. Li, W.J. Lu, S.M. Watkins, J.M. Olefsky

Omega 3 may decrease risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Omega 3 may decrease risk of Pancreatic Cancer
Increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins C and E may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by over 30 percent, suggests new research.
Data from residents in the San Francisco Bay Area found that consuming at least 850 milligrams of omega 3 fatty acids per day was associated with a 53 percent reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer, compared to intakes of between 330 and 580 milligrams per day.
According to findings published in the International Journal of Cancer, benefits were also observed for intakes of  vitamin C and E, the highest average intakes associated with 31 and 33 percent reductions, respectively, compared with the lowest average intakes .On the other hand  Researchers from University of California San Francisco report that high intakes of saturated fats and certain monounsaturated fatty acids may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
In the UK there were 7684 newly diagnosed cases of  pancreatic cancer, although there are a similar number of cases in males and females, the age standardized rates are higher for males.
It has been estimated that the lifetime of developing pancreatic cancer is 1 in 86 for men and 1 in 86 for women in the UK. These were calculated on February 2009 using incidence and mortality data
The prognosis for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is poor, partly due to non-specific symptoms which leads to the disease being diagnosed at a late stage, and partly because of the location of the pancreas.
Pancreatic Cancer is the  fourth most common cause of cancer mortality in the US and the cause of 33,400 deaths among men and women in 2007.
“Results from this large population-based case-control study provide additional evidence that dietary factors and use of supplements may affect risk of pancreatic cancer,” wrote the researchers, led by Paige Bracci from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
“Our results showing increased risk of pancreatic cancer with increased saturated fatty acid intake and decreased risk with high intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid and of vitamin C and E from supplements contribute new data to the epidemiologic literature on pancreatic cancer,” they added.
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