This week in health news: More benefits found in omega-3s

Fatty fish oil could prevent fatty liver disease. Credit:
Fatty fish oil could prevent fatty liver disease.
Credit: Zoonar

More good news about omega-3s

Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: Animals
Results: Omega-3 fatty acids may have an even wider range of health benefits than previously thought, according to a joint study between Oregon State University, Metabolon Inc., Vanderbilt University and Baylor College. Researchers found omega-3s may help ward off fatty liver disease, fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver failure.
Significance: “We were shocked to find so many biochemical pathways being affected,” says Donald Jump, an OSU professor.

Words and pictures about disease motivate young adult smokers to quit

Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: Smokers ages 18-30
Results: On cigarette packs, warnings with pictures depicting smoking-related diseases paired with positive messages of how quitting reduces those disease risks motivate more young adults to stop smoking than packs that only feature text about smoking-related health risks, says a report published on Tobacco Control’s website. This study, conducted by researchers at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, found this true even when variables such as pre-existing attitudes were taken into consideration.
Significance: Researchers advised that countries considering or implementing packaging regulations should consider revising to the picture-text model.

Music therapy helps cancer patients cope better

Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: 113 cancer patients, ages 11-24, undergoing stem cell transplant treatment
Results: Adolescents and young adults undergoing cancer treatment coped better and had increased resilience when they participated in a therapeutic music process delivered by a board-certified music therapist, says a new study published on the American Cancer Society’s CANCER journal’s website. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Indiana University School of Nursing, found that a music therapy intervention, which included writing song lyrics and producing videos, helped patients positively explore and express thoughts and emotions about their disease and treatment.
Significance: “Adolescents and young adults who are resilient have the ability to rise above their illness, gain a sense of mastery and confidence in how they have dealt with their cancer, and demonstrate a desire to reach out and help others,” says study co-author Dr. Joan E. Haase, PhD, RN, FAAN.

Breast cancer survivors cut risk of secondary breast cancer after radiation therapy to both breasts

Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: Mice
Results: When treated with moderate doses of radiation to an unaffected breast at the same time that they receive radiation therapy to their affected breast, breast cancer patients can dramatically reduce the risk of a second cancer developing, according to a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Prophylactic mammary irradiation (PMI) was found to be highly effective at killing premalignant cells in transgenic mice that have a high risk of developing breast cancer. Lead shields were positioned so that one side of each mouse was shielded from the radiation. Researchers are now planning to test PMI in a clinical trial.
Significance: Survivors of breast cancer have a one in six chance of developing breast cancer in the other breast. “While drugs such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors can reduce the risk somewhat, at least for women with estrogen receptor-positive tumors, the long-term risks of a second breast cancer in the unaffected breast remain high,” says study leader David J. Brenner, PhD, director of CUMC’s Center for Radiological Research and the Higgins Professor of Radiation Biophysics.


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