Omega-3 Fats May Reduce Odds of Negative Gene Expression

DENVER, Apr 1, 2004 -- New peer-reviewed research shows that consumption of fatty fish or long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFAs) may reduce the adverse affects of genetic abnormalities. For example, a study on atherosclerosis linked genetic mutations to inflammatory responses, which may be ameliorated by dietary n-3 LC-PUFA intervention. This and other recent research findings are summarized in the March 2004 issue of the PUFA Newsletter.

"This study shows the importance of PUFAs in gene expression, particularly in people with altered genotypes," said Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc., R.D., editor, PUFA Newsletter. "They raise the hope that dietary or supplement intervention with PUFAs may relieve some of the adverse consequences of inheritance."

A landmark study showed that genetically modified mice could synthesize omega-3 PUFAs from linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Normally, mammals cannot perform this fatty acid conversion. Even though the mice were fed a diet deficient in n-3 LC-PUFAs, their tissues were abundant in them compared with unmodified mice.

"These transgenic mice should prove useful for unraveling the details of omega-3 PUFA function, and possibly, increasing the omega-3 fatty acid content of food animals," Nettleton noted.

Recent studies also indicate that the risk of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, bipolar disorders, attention and activity disorders in children, and allergic responses in infants predisposed to allergies may be lowered with n-3 LC-PUFA or fatty fish consumption. For example, infants who consumed cod liver oil during their first year of life were significantly less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than those who did not consume the oil.

Another study shows that cognitive function in middle age may increase with n-3 LC-PUFA intake.

"This study adds to the battery of studies showing a link between moderate fish consumption and reduced risk of cognitive decline," Nettleton said. "Folk wisdom has long advised, 'use it or lose it' to maintain mental function. One might add, 'use it' to eat fish regularly."

Sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products (formerly Roche Vitamins Ltd.), the quarterly PUFA Newsletter is available online at and by complimentary electronic subscription at .

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