Including omega-3 fatty acids in our diets helps protect against cardiovascular disease and other
chronic diseases. The findings of a study published in the January 17, 2006 issue of
Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, show that consuming even more
omega-3s leads to an even greater reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.
Researchers in Japan followed 41,578 men and women aged 40 to 59 who did not have cardiovascular
disease or cancer upon enrollment, from 1990-1992 to 2001. Food frequency questionnaires were
analyzed for weekly omega-3 content consumption.
Over the follow-up period there were 196 nonfatal and 62 fatal coronary events. When the effect
of omega-3 fatty acid intake on cardiovascular risk was analyzed, coronary heart disease risk was
lowered by 42 percent among those whose intake was the highest at 2.1 grams per day or more
compared to those whose intake was the lowest at 300 milligrams per day. There was a 65 percent
reduction in the risk of heart attack among those whose intake was in the top fifth compared to
those whose intake was lowest. Nonfatal coronary events were similarly reduced.
In their discussion of the protective mechanism of omega-3 fatty acids in atherosclerosis, the
authors explain that they reduce platelet aggregation, as well as decrease the production of
leukotrienes, which reduces the multiplication of endothelial cells. Therefore, the authors
conclude that a high intake of omega-3s is correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart
disease (myocardial infarction and nonfatal coronary heart disease) in contrast to a modest
intake. An additional benefit of high consumption of omega-3s is possible prevention of coronary
heart disease among middle-aged persons.
Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.
Hopefully none of us will encounter an agent as destructive as mustard gas, but it is good for us
to note that these particular antioxidants are very lung friendly and that available oral supplement
levels have shown protective activity in research.
Mixture of Lutein, Lycopene and Beta-Carotene protects the DNA of postmenopausal women
Thirty-seven healthy, nonsmoking, postmenopausal women aged 50 to 70 were randomly assigned to
supplement with a combination of Lutein/Lycopene/Beta-Carotene (4mg of each), a large dose of one
of the carotenoids, or placebo daily for 56 days. At day 57 it was found that using the combination
of carotenoids significantly decreased damage to the women's DNA. DNA is the gene material used to
replicate normal healthy cells and damage to DNA is implicated in the production of damage seen in
chronic diseases that accompany aging such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. The damage to DNA was
not inhibited by placebo. The protection was seen as early as the 15th day of using the carotenoids.
The research was performed at Tufts University and is published in the January 2006 issue of the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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