HEALTH

Omega-3 fatty acids have antidepressant properties, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

MIAMI — The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology on Wednesday presented a new analysis of the effects of omega-3 essential fatty acids as potential treatment options for depression.

Two critical omega-3 essential fatty acids available from certain food or nutritional supplements but not manufactured by the body — eicosapentenoic acid and docosahexaenoic — play a role in optimal brain functioning and have antidepressant benefits that have not been fully recognized, the professional society stated during its annual meeting in Miami.

In a meta-analysis of 15 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, led by John Davis, research professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and ACNP member, found that patients taking omega-3 with either EPA or a combination of EPA and DHA experienced clear antidepressant benefits. However, across studies, patients taking the pure DHA form of omega-3 saw no antidepressant effect.

"Our analysis clarifies the precise type of omega-3 fatty acid that is effective for people with depression and explains why previous findings have been contradictory," Davis said. "The EPA predominant formulation is necessary for the therapeutic action to occur. The DHA predominant formulation does not have antidepressant efficacy."

While scientists noted that omega-3 produces beneficial effects in patients with depression, EPA does not improve mood in people who are not depressed. In several studies, people without depression experienced no difference in mood as a result of omega-3 consumption. In another study, Davis and his team found that women with inadequate omega-3 intake were more likely to experience depression during and after pregnancy than women with adequate omega-3 in their diets.

"The findings are unambiguous," Davis noted. "Omega-3 fatty acids have antidepressant properties, and this effect is ready to be tested in a large study to establish the dose range and to pave the way for [Food and Drug Administration] approval. In the meantime, omega-3 fatty acids containing EPA could be useful to augment effects of antidepressant medications. However, scientists caution that patients should always talk with their mental health professional before taking omega-3 fatty acids to alleviate symptoms of depression."

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Pfizer Consumer Healthcare promotes Children’s Advil with new campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

MADISON, N.J. — Pfizer Consumer Healthcare on Tuesday launched a new consumer promotion campaign featuring television actress Angie Harmon in support of its Children’s Advil brand.

The campaign incorporates a “Relieve My Fever” contest that invites parents and their kids to sing the Children’s Advil rendition of the classic song “Fever” for a chance to win $15,000. The kid-friendly version of the song tells the story of mommy fighting her little one’s fever and making her child feel better. As part of the contest, Pfizer Consumer will donate $5 for every entry submitted and $1 for every vote cast to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“As a mom of three young children, I know firsthand that fevers can sometimes get in the way of childhood fun,” stated Harmon. “The ‘Relieve My Fever’ contest gives parents and kids a chance to have some fun together for a good cause.”

To enter, parents can visit RelieveMyFever.com for easy-to-follow instructions, lyrics, music and a sample video that will help them create and submit their own video performance.

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Study: Daily aspirin use may reduce cancer-related deaths

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON — Daily aspirin use may curb cancer-related deaths, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

The study, led by Peter Rothwell of the University of Oxford and colleagues, analyzed data from eight eligible trials — which typically lasted about four years — and included more than 25,000 subjects. Among them, 674 died from cancer.

The researchers found that those who consumed 75 mg of aspirin per day cut their risk of dying from certain cancers by 20%, and found that the prolonged use of aspirin would continue to reduce the death risk of cancer patients. "These findings have implications for guidelines on use of aspirin and for understanding of carcinogenesis and its susceptibility to drug intervention," the study authors said.

But while these conclusions certainly are worth noting, only one-third of the subjects were women, and since the trials on average only lasted four years, the benefits of aspirin consumption may not be properly measured. Additionally, aspirin touts its own risks, including strokes and other complications.

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