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Omega-3s Guard Against Type 1 Diabetes
Date:9/25/2007

High-risk kids who ate more fatty acids were less likely to develop diabetes, study says,,,,

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Youngsters at high risk for developing type 1 diabetes might be able to prevent the disease by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a new study suggests.

Reporting in the Sept. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the University of Colorado found that high-risk children with the highest omega-3 intake had up to a 55 percent reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.

"The kids with more omega-3 in their diets were about half as likely to develop type 1 diabetes than those with less," said study author Jill Norris, a professor in the department of preventive medicine and biometrics at the Barbara David Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, walnuts and certain plant oils, such as canola and olive. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and are believed to help reduce the incidence of heart disease.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly attacks the islet cells in the pancreas. Insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels, is produced by the islet cells. In past research, scientists discovered that Norwegian children who were regularly given cod liver oil supplements, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, had a lower incidence of type 1 diabetes. It wasn't clear, however, whether the vitamin D or the omega-3 was responsible for the reduced risk.

To assess the affect of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on the risk of type 1 diabetes, Norris and her colleagues recruited 1,770 children who were at high risk for developing type 1 diabetes, either because they had a family member with the disease or because they had genetic markers that put them at a higher risk for developing
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