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Omega-3 in the press

A flurry of national and international media articles was based on an epidemiologic, i.e. observatory study, stating that the higher eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in plasma phospholipd fatty acids, the higher the risk to develop prostate cancer (Brasky TM et al, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Aug 7;105:1132). It was suggested that this was due to high intake of EPA and DHA, which might also have other risks.

The levels of EPA and DHA measured by Brasky et al in plasma were very low, basically excluding high intake of EPA and DHA. Moreover, differences between groups were very small: differences were within the large variability when measuring fatty acids in plasma. In other words: Brasky et al heard a signal, when there was only noise. And then they falsely interpreted their data. This was uncritically repeated by the media.

In Japan and Korea, we measured the HS-Omega-3 Index in many healthy populations in the suggested target range of 8 -11 %. In these countries, the incidence of prostate cancer is 10 per 100.000 men, while in the USA, it is 63 per 100.000 white men, and 102 per 100.000 black men. (source: World Foundation of Urology, Prostate Cancer Prevention). In the USA, we found a mean HS-Omega-3 Index of 4.5% in 160.000 measurements (Harris et al, PLEFA 2013;88:257). Our figures indicate that facts are the reverse of what the media reported: A high HS-Omega-3 Index correlates with a low risk for prostate cancer.

Even if the figures of Brasky et al were true: A HS-Omega-3 Index of 8 - 11% means a longer life than a lower HS-Omega-3 Index, prostate cancer included.

By the way: A recent meta-analysis found omega-3 fatty acids to be associated with a low risk for breast cancer (Zheng et al, Br Med J 2013; 346:f3706, e-pub 27.06.13). This was of no interest to the media.

500 000 Euro for an Intervention Trial on Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Krill on cognitive performance

On July 17, 2013, the „Open University“ in Heerlen, Netherlands, has received funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO, „Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek“). The funding is provided to conduct an intervention study with omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil on cognitive performance of adolescents. Half of the funding comes from NWO, the other half from private partners: Omegametrix (lab analyses, study design), AkerBiomarine, Antarctic AS and Olympic Seafood (krill oil and placebo supplements) and Metrisquare B.V. (neuro-psychologic measurements).

A high HS-Omega-3 Index is associated with good cognitive performance in elderly individuals. In children, a low HS-Omega-3 Index is associated with issues like ADHD. From intervention studies comes evidence that cognitive performance in elderly individuals and ADHD in children can be improved by increasing levels of omega-3 fatty acids. It has not yet been investigated, however, how increasing the HS-Omega-3 Index affects cognitive performance of adolescents. Dr. Renate de Groot, from Open University in Heerlen will be leading the intervention trial. She already performed studies on healthy adolescents on the association of fish consumption on learning. Also, she already performed nutritional intervention trials in adolescents.

Study Design
This randomized, double-blind, controlled intervention trial will be the first to study the effect of krill oil in adolescents. Based on our collaboration in designing the trial, it will also be the first with a design based on the HS-Omega-3 Index in adolescents: only adolescents with a low HS-Omega-3 Index will be recruited. The dose of omega-3 fatty acids will be adjusted to reach a high HS-Omega-3 Index (8-11%). The adolescents will be in the intervention phase for one year, and will be observed later on. The research project is due to start in the fall of 2013 and last for a total of 48 months.

End Points
Effects of increasing the HS-Omega-3 Index will be studied on cognitive performance, including school grades, behaviour, self-esteem, and motivation. In a subgroup, parameters like concentration and aspects of information processing will be assessed using an eye movement tracking technology.

Wall Street Journal: "One Fish, Two Fish: Counting Your Omega-3s"

If you're wondering if you're getting enough Omega-3 in your diet, a blood test can help you decide if you need to eat more fish. The Omega-3 index blood test measures the good fats in your red-blood cells, and grades you on your related risk of heart disease. Some doctors say the test is a useful motivator, while others say most people need to focus first on basics such as losing weight and eating vegetables...

LA-Times: Gene Smart health test rates omega-3 fatty acid levels

The acids, naturally found in fish, have been shown to help promote healthy heart rhythms, lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots...

Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Title: Risiko für plötzlichen Herztod senken - Index zeigt individuellen Gehalt essentieller Fettsäuren an
Author: Professor Dr. Clemens von Schacky - Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Abstract: Mindestens 100.000 Menschen sterben in Deutschland jedes Jahr am plötzlichen Herztod. Einer von mehreren bekannten Faktoren, die hier in gewissem Maße präventiv wirken können, ist der regelmäßige Verzehr von Fisch. Dieser Effekt wird auf zwei Omega-3-Fettsäuren zurückgeführt, die vor allem in fetthaltigen Fischarten vorkommen. Professor Clemens von Schacky, Leiter der Abteilung "Präventive Kardiologie" der Medizinischen Klinik und Poliklinik Innenstadt der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München hat in Zusammenarbeit mit einem amerikanischen Kollegen den "Omega-3-Index" entwickelt, mit dessen Hilfe der Gehalt eines Menschen an diesen essentiellen Fettsäuren bestimmt werden kann. Wie der Kardiologe vor kurzem in der Fachzeitschrift "Münchner Medizinische Wochenschrift" (MMW) berichtete, könnte der Index auch helfen, das persönliche Risiko für den plötzlichen Herztod zu ermitteln. Bei einem zu niedrigen Index könnten dann, so von Schacky, über die gezielte Einnahme der beiden wichtigen Omega-3-Fettsäuren als vorbeugende Maßnahme höhere Werte erreicht und damit das Risiko für den plötzlichen Herztod gesenkt werden.
Link: http://idw-online.de/pages/de/news230239

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