Study: Margarines with Omega-3 Fats Didn't Benefit Heart Attack Survivors
Omega-3 fatty acids might not be as potent a weapon against heart disease as some research has shown, a new study suggests. Nearly 5,000 heart attack survivors used one of four kinds of margarine for 40 months: regular or one of three enriched with omega-3 fats from fish, from plants, or from both. Volunteers who got a small daily serving of any of the omega-enhanced margarines—about four teaspoons—had rates of death, repeat heart attack, or other heart problems similar to those who ate the regular kind, according to research published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Omega-3s have been touted for reducing the risk of abnormal heartbeats, lowering triglyceride levels, and slowing the growth of artery-clogging plaque. They are added to foods like margarine, peanut butter, and cheese, and are found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and tuna. The researchers noted that the participants in the trial were getting good clinical care and receiving statins, blood pressure drugs, and other medications with demonstrated heart benefits. Thus they were at relatively low risk for death or another heart attack, and beneficial effects of a small amount of omega-3 fats might not show up. Diabetics, whose risk of death or a heart event is far higher after a heart attack than it is for nondiabetics, were another story. Diabetic patients in the study who ate margarine with omega-3 fats had about 50 percent fewer heart deaths and abnormal heart rhythms.
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Can't Get Pregnant? How Stress May Be Causing Your Infertility
There are women who get pregnant easily even if they smoke like a chimney, drink a six-pack after dinner, and think of exercise as a waste of good texting time. Then there are the women who do all the right things but months and years pass and the strip in the home pregnancy kit refuses to change color. Relax, say well-meaning friends. Chill out. Let it happen. Gee, thanks, thinks the beneficiary of their insight, gritting her teeth.
But as unwelcome as the advice may be, it may be right, U.S. News's Megan Johnson writes. New evidence suggests that stress does affect fertility. A recent study found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that correlates with stress, have a harder time getting pregnant. Saliva samples taken from 274 women over six menstrual cycles (or until they got pregnant) revealed that those with the highest enzyme concentrations during the first cycle were 12 percent less likely to conceive than were women with the lowest levels.
What's more, women involved in the study, published earlier this month in the journal Fertility and Sterility, had no prior record of infertility. Participants were either planning to get pregnant or had been trying for less than three months. [Read more: Can't Get Pregnant? How Stress May Be Causing Your Infertility.]
4 Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom
The motto "breast is best" has long been a mantra drummed into pregnant women's heads. And heck, it's worked, with more new moms breastfeeding than ever before: At least 75 percent of babies today are breast-fed for some period of time compared to 60 percent 15 years ago—though far less than half of babies are nursed beyond six months, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a shame, since study after study is finding that breast milk beats formula not only for baby's health but for mom's, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz writes. Research published last week in the American Journal of Medicine, for example, found that women who breast-fed for less than a month had nearly twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decades later in life compared to those who breast-fed for longer or those who never had children.
And let's not forget the host of benefits that breastfeeding confers on babies such as fewer ear infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, and respiratory infections. "Among formula-fed infants, the incidence of vomiting and diarrhea is nearly 100 percent in the first year of life," while only half of breast-fed infants get such illnesses, according to a report published last year in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine by David Meyers, director of the primary care center at the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Breast-fed infants also get perks that extend well past their toddler years; they're less likely to become overweight grade schoolers and have decreased rates of type 2 diabetes, eczema, and leukemia. It appears that the composition of breast milk has beneficial effects on a child's immune system and body fat composition. [Read more: 4 Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom.]
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