Fatty acid found in fish may protect the heart

An essential fatty acid found in "fatty" fish like tuna, mackeral, herring and salmon, called omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, consistently reduces triglyceride levels and may protect the heart.

That finding was recently announced at the meeting of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids.

Cholesterol has long been considered a key indicator of risk for developing heart disease. Now evidence shows that triglycerides may be as important in making the determination.

Triglycerides are a type of fat found both in diet and produced by the body. They circulate in the bloodstream as part of lipoproteins, much like cholesterol is associated with low-density and high-density lipoproteins.

Heart disease kills nearly 500,000 people a year in the United States.

An analysis of more than 70 human trials found an average omega-3 intake of 3.5 to 4 grams reduced mean triglyceride levels by 25 to 28 percent. And the "good" cholesterol, HDL, increased by 14 percent.

Iodine treatment not linked to overall cancer deaths

The use of radioactive iodine as treatment for overactive thyroid conditions is not linked to overall cancer deaths, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Elaine Ron and colleagues from the Cooperative Thyrotoxicosis Therapy Follow-Up Study Group followed up more than 35,000 patients who had received one of three different therapies - radioactive iodine, antithyroid drugs or surgery - to see if there was a higher incidence of deaths from cancer than expected in the general population. The researchers found there was no correlation between the treatments and overall cancer deaths.

In the United States, the most common therapy for overactive thyroid disorders is radioactive iodine, which is a noninvasive treatment that reduces the number of thyroid hormone producing cells by destroying them with radiation. Since the thyroid is the main gland that processes iodine, the radiation concentrates in the gland and the remainder is excreted out of the body. The relative cancer risk has been assumed to be low.

Looking at patients treated with radioactive iodine, they found the rate of cancer deaths was the same as expected for the general population. But they did find a small but statistically significant increase in thyroid cancer mortality among patients treated with radioactive iodine. But they concluded that "neither hyperthyroidism nor radioactive iodine treatment resulted in a significantly increased risk of total cancer mortality. While there was an elevated risk of thyroid cancer mortality following radioactive iodine treatment, in absolute terms the excess number of deaths was small and the underlying thyroid disease appeared to play a role."

Processed bran more effective in fighting colon cancer

A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's research division says that processed wheat bran like that which makes up Kellogg's All Bran cereal is a "substantially more effective" form of wheat bran fiber in reducing the risk of colon cancer than is raw wheat bran.

"This research is the first to show that the processed form offers greater colon cancer protection than unprocessed wheat bran in animal models," said Wallace H. Yokoyama, research chemist for the USDA.

Last year, the world's leading diet and cancer experts evaluated more than 100 scientific studies conducted over the past 25 years and agreed that colon cancer was largely preventable. They concluded that "During the past 25 years, many population studies have strongly suggested that foods low in fat and rich in fiber help protect against colorectal cancer. In a recent well-controlled clinical trial, a low-fat diet supplemented by wheat bran prevented the development of large polyps."