ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
CANCER
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
CAREGIVING
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
EYE CARE, VISION
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
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Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A new review shows that the omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish not only prevent cardiovascular disease, but may even help treat it.

"A lot of people know that omega-3 fatty acids are a good thing, but have thought of them in the area of nutritional or health foods," said study author Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. "They don't realize there is so much data, a lot of data from big studies, that they are not only preventive but also help in therapy for a number of conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, heart attack, atherosclerosis and heart failure."

The report in the Aug. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology cites four trials with almost 40,000 participants that show benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, in treatment after heart attack and, most recently, in heart failure patients.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are such an old story that such studies can go unnoticed, Lavie said. "If you polled cardiologists about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know if they would recognize how much has been done in this area," he noted.

As far back as 2002, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement endorsing omega-3 fatty acid intake, from fish or supplements. It recommended specific amounts of omega-3 fatty acids each day for people in general, with greater intake recommended for people with heart disease.

"For the general population, it should be 500 milligrams a day," Lavie said. "If you have heart disease, it should be 800 or 1,000 milligrams a day."

Lavie includes himself in the second category, because "I have a family history of heart disease. I eat a lot of fish and take a supplement just to be sure."

It's got to be the right kind of fish, the oily species that have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, Lavie added. "Redfish, trout, salmon," he said. "Salmon is my favorite."

Not much effort is needed for most people to achieve the recommended intake, Lavie said. "Five hundred milligrams a day is two fatty fish meals per week," he added.

But too many people eat non-oily fish such as catfish, Lavie noted. "And they have it fried, which reduces its health benefits," he added.

His review did turn up a few negative studies, including one showing no benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in people who had heart attacks. But it was a relatively small (4,000 people), short (one-year) trial, and the patients in the trial were already getting intensive drug therapy including clot-busting clopidogrel, cholesterol-lowering statins, beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, Lavie noted.

Set against that one trial are the many larger studies cited by Lavie, and epidemiological evidence showing that populations such as Asians and Alaskan Eskimos, whose diets are rich in fish oil, have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.

The picture is not complete, the new report noted. Studies still must be done to determine the relative benefits of DHA and EPA, the long-chain fatty acids in the omega-3 family. And the American Heart Association says that Omega-3 supplements should be taken only after consulting with a doctor, because too much can cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Another study now in the recruiting stage will test omega-3 fatty acids to prevent not only cardiovascular disease but also cancer, said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

She is a leader of the trial, which is now recruiting 10,000 men aged 60 and older and 10,000 women aged 65 and older. The researchers will test not only the effect of omega-3 fatty acids but also of vitamin D.

Both are "very promising nutrients in prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases," Manson said. In the five-year trial, a quarter of the participants will take both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, a quarter will take the vitamin, a quarter will take the fatty acids and a quarter will take a placebo.

Enthusiasts shouldn't anticipate the results of the trial and start taking large doses of omega-3 fatty acids, Manson warned. "It's too early to jump on the bandwagon and take megadoses, but moderate doses seem reasonable," she said.

SOURCES: Carl J. Lavie, M.D., medical director, cardiac rehabilitation and prevention, Ochsner Clinic, New Orleans; JoAnn Manson, M.D., chief, preventive medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Aug. 11, 2009, Journal of the American College of Cardiology