ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
CANCER
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Heavy Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer
Any Old Cane Won't Do
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Add your Article

Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart

Scientists think they have uncovered at least one of the reasons why omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart.

The more omega-3 that patients with coronary heart disease consumed, the slower their telomeres shrank. Telomeres are structures at the end of a chromosome that get shorter the more times a cell divides, making them a marker of biological age.

"We're certainly not saying that this is the reason for all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but it is a new pathway linking omega-3 fatty acids to biological aging in these patients," said study lead author Dr. Ramin Farzaneh-Far, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The findings are published in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"What they're really saying is that there is quite an impact of omega-3s on cell support and cell functioning," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. "If you supplement with omega-3s or eat omega-3s, your cells stay healthier, your cells age less quickly."

Said Farzaneh-Far: "Cardiologists have known for about 20 years that increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for patients with coronary artery disease, particularly those who have had a prior heart attack. It reduces the risk of subsequent heart attacks and death."

But the reasons for that benefit have not been well defined, said John Bowman, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. "We don't know the exact cellular mechanisms," he said.

Omega-3 fatty acids are plentiful in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna, according to the American Heart Association.

For the new study, the researchers followed about 600 patients in the San Francisco Bay Area with coronary artery disease. Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and telomere length were measured at the beginning of the study and again about five years later.

"That allowed us to measure the change in telomere length over five years and see if that bore any association with levels of omega-3 fatty acids at the beginning of the study," Farzaneh-Far said.

And, indeed, there was a relationship.

"We found that as blood levels of omega-3 went up, the rate at which telomeres shortened decreased," Farzaneh-Far said. "To the extent that that is a marker of biological aging, the rate of biological aging went down."

The findings don't change current recommendations regarding omega-3 fatty acids or what people should be doing.

"The American Heart Association recommends that those with coronary heart disease get about a gram a day of omega-3 fatty acids," said Farzaneh-Far. "Our study certainly doesn't suggest any change in that."

Dr. Melissa Tracy, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said the new study gives "some additional support to the use of omega-3 fatty acids." But, she noted, it's unclear how far these findings could be extrapolated to other groups of people, such as those who don't have coronary artery disease.

"There are other extraneous circumstances which can impact telomere length," she said.

And, Tracy added, "we should try to do as much with our own bodies that we can. I am an advocate of proper diet, exercise, for optimizing your lifestyle, meaning reducing stress and getting enough sleep."

SOURCES: Ramin Farzaneh-Far, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Melissa Tracy, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine, and medical director, cardiac rehabilitation, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; John Bowman, M.S., associate professor of pharmacy practice, Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy; Suzanne Steinbaum, M.D., preventive cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City and spokeswoman, American Heart Association; Jan. 20, 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association Published on: January 19, 2010