Medical News Notes – April 27, 2011
Posted Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 by
Fish oils linked to prostate cancer. Pain relievers can weaken anti-depressants. There’s a new weapon in the fight against melanoma. These and other stories from the world of health and medicine in this week’s Medical News Notes.
Omega-3 May Cause Prostate Cancer
Sometimes it seems you can’t win for losing. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been credited with maintaining good cardiovascular function and preventing heart disease. Now research done by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., has linked these same “healthy” fats with a particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer. There’s no linkage between Omega-3s and the more common, less-aggressive prostate cancers, the researchers noted. Men should not stop eating fish, the researchers stressed, stating, “The beneficial effects of eating fish to prevent heart disease outweigh any harm related to prostate cancer risk.”
Mercury in Fish Won’t Harm the Heart
Speaking of fish, most fish in the American diet contains some level of mercury. Because mercury has been associated with developmental problems in fetuses and infants, there’s also been concern it could be harmful to adults. Although extremely high levels of mercury can cause severe neurological problems, it now appears that “normal” mercury ingestion won’t harm the heart. A major study done at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that the mercury levels most consumers are likely to encounter have no impact on cardiovascular function. And whatever risks exist are far outweighed by the health benefits of a fish-rich diet (see above).
Pain Relievers Block Anti-Depressants
If you suffer from clinical depression, the last thing you want now is a headache. Common anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen appear to block the effectiveness of SSRI anti-depressants, which include everything from Prozac to Paxil and Zoloft. The discovery made by Rockefeller University researchers may explain why many people, particularly the elderly, fail to respond to these medications. Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) was not cited in the study.
New Skin Cream May Fight Melanoma
Increased use of conventional sunscreens has done little to stop the rapid increase of malignant melanoma cases in the United States. Now, a new skin cream called ISC-4 containing a growth-inhibiting protein may help prevent this often-fatal form of skin cancer. When applied directly to vulnerable areas such as moles, ISC-4 kills malformed cells while not harming normal, healthy ones, according to researchers at the Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center. They hope this new cream will not only reduce incidences of melanoma, but also the need to excise tumors through surgery.
‘Go Raw’ to Fight Obesity
Polyphenols, chemicals found in foods like nuts and berries, are known to inhibit fat formation in the human body. For years, nutritionists have been trying to extract polyphenols from these foods to create obesity-fighting drugs, but have enjoyed only modest success. It now appears that the process through which polyphenols are extracted from foods delivers only weaker versions of the chemical. To get the full effect of polyphenols, scientists recommend eating raw nuts and berries, particularly blueberries, which are rich in the fat-fighting substance. In fact, the more colorful one’s diet, the more polyphenols are likely to be present, experts advise.
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