Archive for fish oils
The ability of fish oil to suppress TNF alpha production
This is the future of medicine (like great-great-great grandchildrenish futureâ€¦) where genetic differences are known to effect response rates to various interventions. TNF alphaÂ up-regulatesÂ the immune system and TNF alpha blockade is one of the big new classes of disease modifying drugs for Crohnâ€™s and rheumatoid arthritis. Here we see that different genetic polymorphisms in production of TNF alpha respond differently to fish oil supplementation. Genetic tests are already available for many known single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNiPS) that effect treatment response. Keep in mind that 6 g of fish oil is a high dosage.
AJCN â€” Abstracts: Grimble et al. 76 (2): 454
Fish Oil Increases Acetylcholine, Eicosanoid-Induced Contractility of Ileum
This article is very timely with the FDAâ€™s conditional approval (see next article) of alosetron. Re-release of this drug after its withdrawal after fatal side effects is a subject of hot controversy. The drug is designed to help with diarrhea-dominant IBS. Here we see a natural approach to the opposite end of the spectrum; and Iâ€™d bet I would be hard pressed to find any fatal reactions to fish oilâ€¦
Nutrition.org â€” Abstracts: Patten et al. 132 (9): 2506
When the USDA came out with the Food Guide Pyramid in 1992, smart physicians and researchers predicted increases in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Guess what we saw?
Increases in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.Â But why?Â Â Those of you old enough to remember the Pyramid will recall that fats and oils were at the top of the pyramid with the instructions to “use sparingly.”Â Grains, with no guidance on whole grains versus refined, made up the base of the pyramid at 6-11 servings per day.
The problem is that fats and oils, the healthy ones, are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.Â But the Pyramid drove fats into the category of “fattening” in the eyes of the American public.Â To this day, many people think that foods high in fat will make them fat.Â This is just not true.
Now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, we need to move on to the meat of today’s article.
There have been some clear associations between healthy fats found in wild caught fish, nuts and olive oil and lowered rates of certain types of cancer as well as an adjunct to mainstream cancer treatment.Â Some examples include:
- Using omega 3 fatty acids to improve cancer outcomes.
- Olive oil use lowers colorectal cancer risk.
- EPA kills off pancreatic cancer in the lab.
- Healthy fats protect skin cells from skin cancer.
There are many more, but I think you get the idea.
This particular articleÂ is a review of the anti-cancer properties of omega-3 fatty acids.Â Here’s what the authors point out:
- Epoxydocosapentaenoic acids (EDPs) are compounds made from the omega-3 DHA.
- EDPs block the compound VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor).Â VEGF stimulates the growth of new blood vessels that is so important for tumor growth.
- EDFs block another compound called fibroblast growth factor 2 that also makes new blood vessels.
- EDFs blockÂ endothelial cell migration–another process needed to form new blood vessels.
- EDFs block the enzyme protease, which is needed for cancer cells to metastasize.
- In special cellular studies,Â EDPs have been shown to cut primary tumor growth and metastasis by up to 70%
- Interestingly,Â compounds derived from the omega-6 arachidonic acid increase angiogenesis and tumor progression.
The bottom line is that an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats combined with a decrease in animal-based saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids is clearly have a role to play when it comes to cancer in our bodies.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- wild caught fish
- grass fed meats (NOT grain finished) and wild game
- nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc…)
- veg-a-fed eggs
Good sources of monounsaturated fats include:
- olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed is best)
Foods high in omega-6 and animal saturated fats to avoid:
- vegetable oils (corn, soybean, peanut, cottonseed, etc…)
- commercially grown meats
- dairy products
If your fridge is a little short on items on the first 2 lists above and loaded with the third list, it’s time for a purge.Â Your future risk of cancer depends on it.
This is certainly not the first time I’ve written about the hazards of using anti-inflammatories at the first sign of a twinge.Â But this one is going to take it from a different viewpoint.
I think we could all agree that the process of inflammation is a natural one.Â After all, why would the human physiology have a process in place that is useless?Â It wouldn’t.Â Inflammation serves several purposes.Â One key purpose would be the prevention and management of infections.Â Your immune system (the system responsible for the inflammatory response) gears up to fight off an invader, and, should that invader break through, it will gear up an attack on that invader,Â be it a virus, bacteria, yeast or even a tumor cell.Â Another key purpose is the clearing out of damaged tissue and subsequent repair of the damaged region.
Each of these actions of the immune system needs balance and control:
- Too much protection against an invader and you get allergies and asthma.
- Too strong of a reaction against an invader and you could go into shock.
- Too strong of a response to an injury andÂ undamaged tissue gets taken out in the process.
But these are all on the upswing of the inflammatory response andÂ controlling this side of things is a good thing.Â But can our society’s obsession with anti-inflammatories be affecting the natural history of this process?Â You bet!
Consider inflammation as pushing a boulder uphill.Â Once you get it over the top, the going’s easy from there.Â Anti-inflammatories may, in the initial stages, make the hill smaller.Â But the initial stages of inflammation are supposed to end–after a few days with an infection (hopefully) and within 24 hours with an injury (depending on severity of the injury).Â We used to think that inflammation, once started, would resolve all on its own.Â We now know this is not true.
The resolution of inflammation is not a passive process.Â The body has to actively end inflammation.Â And there are some critical factors needed for this process.
Namely, our old friends, DHA and EPA from fish oils.
Specifically, DHA and EPA are required to make a class of compounds referred to as Resolvins and Protectins (I know, but I didn’t come up with the creative names…).Â If you’re a biochemistry nerd, you can read more about them in this particular review.
This begins to explain the many benefits we see from essential fatty acid supplementation on a long list of chronic disease.Â More importantly, you can begin to lay out some “to do” things on your journey to control and resolve inflammation in your own body.Â These include:
- Increasing your intake of healthy fats found in such foods asÂ wild caught fish, olive oils, raw nuts, seeds and avocados.
- Decreasing your intake of less healthy fats found in hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils.
- Avoiding anti-inflammatories.Â With the exception of aspirin, which may help the process,Â other anti-inflammatories actually slowed or stopped the ability of EPA and DHA to halt inflammation.
- If inflammation from an autioimmune disorder or chronic pain is a concern, consider supplementing UP TO 3 full grams ofÂ omega-3 / day (this does NOT mean 3 capsules per day).
So, next time you think about curbing inflammation with drugs, shift your thinking.Â Think about how you are going to RESOLVE your inflammation instead.
Interesting question and would likely generate a wide range of answers depending upon where in the life cycle you are. But an even more important question would be, what would you be willing to DO for 2.2 more years of life?
This answer requires action and not wealth.Â Quitting smoking (or never starting).Â Exercising.Â Eating a diet without processed foods.Â Cutting back on stress.Â All changes that you can (and should) make that have a solid foundation of research for increasing longevity.
But many times it is not merely about quantity of life.Â Quality becomes a much more important factor when it comes to life.Â Who wants to live to 90 but spend 5 years infirm in a bed on oxygen, your lifeÂ little more than existing?
No one would opt for this end to his or her life, although I could argue that lifestyle is a conscious choice done during life that will lead to this end of life, essentially meaning that you DID choose this course.Â But what if the choice was much easier than actually exercising?
Before we get into the longevity-inducing intervention highlighted here, I need to make something clear.
Pharmaceutical interventions are typically one-cause / one cure approaches.Â That means that we use a statin to lower your risk of having a heart attack and hope for the best (which, as you are all aware of by now, this “best” is a 1% lower risk of having a heart attack with statin use).Â And you can’t pile up 20 drugs to give you a 20% lower risk of having a heart attack.Â Drugs just aren’t cumulative like that.
Lifestyle, on the other hand, IS cumulative.Â Exercise CAN work with eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to dramatically lower your risk of a heart attack or death.Â This is where the power of lifestyle comes in.
So, with this in mind, this particular study looked at how much of a difference healthy fats in the blood made on longevity in this large group of study participants.
To raise your blood levels of the healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, you can eat raw nuts, wild caught fish, use olive oil and more seeds.Â Supplementation with fish oils is a good idea to augment what you get from your diet.
Here’s what the researchers found:
- Higher omega 3-PUFA led to a 27% lower risk of death from all causes.
- Specifically, EPA was 17% lower, 20% lower for DHA.
- The greatest protection was on heart deaths.
- Overall, those with the highest levels lived an average of 2.22 more years after age 65 years.
Given that good quality fish oils in our office run about $15 / month, 2.2 years would cost you $390.Â Pretty economical, if you ask me…
So, would you pay $390 for 2.2 more years of life?
Mercury, Fish Oils, and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction
Mercuryâ€™s contribution to heart disease (with special emphasis on dilated cardiomyopathy) is rapidly gaining ground. Of concern is the mercury burden in many ofÂ today’sÂ commonly consumed fish. Keep in mind that it is important to identify potential sources of mercury exposure, evaluate body burden with tests such as heavy metal hair analysis and treat with chelation therapies.
NEJM â€” Abstracts: Guallar et al. 347 (22): 1747
Here is a website from the FDA with mercury levelsâ€¦FDA/CFSAN â€“ Mercury Levels in Seafood Species.Â Click here.
Dietary Fiber and C-Reactive Protein
Iâ€™ve said it beforeâ€¦why all the ruckus trying to find a drug that will lower CRP levels? We already have many natural approaches that will lower CRP levelsâ€“exericse, avoiding refined carbs, fish oilsâ€¦ Many clinicians are still not ordering CRP levels for their patients at high risk of heart disease. As far as Iâ€™m concerned, the evidence is very strong that CRP is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. I always run CRP levels in my office anytime I requiest bloodwork.
nutrition.org â€” Abstracts: Ajani et al. 134 (5): 1181 -
Addition of Omega-3 Fatty Acid to Meds for Depressive Disorder
While this is only a small study, I feel that it is incredibly important. I know that in my office I see many patients on pschoactive drugs. Many of these patients experience weight gain as a side effect, and are frequently bounced around between meds to see which â€śworks best.â€ť
This study uses fish oil as an adjunct to pharmaceutical intervention. How about using fish oil as one tool in the package to include dietary changes and exercise? I think we would find management of depression in this way much more effective with little or no adverse effects.
American Journal of Psychiatry â€” Abstracts: Nemets et al. 159 (3): 477 -
Influence of the dietary fatty acids and antioxidants on hay fever in adults
Higher intakes of EPA (usually associated with healthy fats such as fish oil and olive oil) showed a protective effect against development of hay fever. This is not a surprising finding; however, dietary approaches are rarely addressed in modifying risk for atopic diseases and asthma. Surprisingly, higher intakes of beta carotene showed an increased risk. Using some guesswork, I can apply two possible scenarios here.
First, this study used a dietary recall by the study participants to evaluate intakes. This can be misleading and there may have been other factors that were contributory other than the beta carotene. Second, higher intakes of one type of nutrient without balancing among the nutrientâ€™s â€ścousinsâ€ť (such as too much Vit E without taking in gamma tocopherol will lower levels of gamma tocopherol) can lead to problems. This second idea may be the most reasonable hypothesis.
The influence of the dietary intake of fatty acids and antioxidants on hay fever in adults â€“ Allergy, Vol 58, Issue 12, pp. 1..
Omega 3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary and secondary-prevention studies
Sometimes I think we get to a point where additional studies seem to be a waste of resources and we ought to just accept a fact and move on (i.e. breast feeding is good for babies, cigarette smoking is bad for usâ€¦). We are definitely there with fish oil. And of course, adding in omega 3 and monounsaturated fatty acids into your diet as much as possible is going to be a good thing on almost every chronic disease because they have an anti-inflammatory action.
This review does not find the same benefits from ALA (found in higher levels in flax), but we have always known the human conversion from ALA to EPA is pretty low. But, in ALAâ€™s defense, we have see positive effects of this fatty acid on other aspects of our health as well.