Will eating fish prevent Parkinson’s disease, can we trust BMI to measure obesity, and is a more effective treatment for depression on the horizon?

Eating fish could prevent Parkinson’s disease

(Medical Press, 4/23/2018, Chalmers University of Technology)

A new study from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, shines more light on the link between consumption of fish and better long-term neurological health. Parvalbumin, a protein found in great quantities in several fish species, has been shown to prevent the formation of certain protein structures closely associated with Parkinson’s disease. Fish has long been considered a healthy food, linked to improved long-term cognitive health, but the reasons for this have been unclear. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, are often assumed to be responsible, and are commonly marketed in this fashion. However, the scientific research regarding this topic has drawn mixed conclusions. Now, research from Chalmers has shown that the protein parvalbumin, which is very common in many fish species, may be contributing to this effect. One of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease is amyloid formation of a particular human protein called alpha-synuclein. Alpha-synuclein is even sometimes referred to as the Parkinson’s protein. What the Chalmers researchers have now discovered is that parvalbumin can form amyloid structures that bind together with the alpha-synuclein protein. Parvalbumin effectively scavenges the alpha-synuclein proteins, using them for its own purposes, thus preventing them from forming their own potentially harmful amyloids later on.

‘Gene map for depression’ sparks hopes of new generation of treatments

(The Guardian, 4/26/2018, Ian Sample)

Scientists have raised hopes for more effective treatments for depression, a condition that affects over 300 million people globally, after mapping out the genetic foundations of the mental disorder in unprecedented detail. In the world’s largest investigation into the impact of DNA on the mental disorder, more than 200 researchers identified 44 gene variants that raise the risk of depression. Of those, 30 have never been connected to the condition before. By tripling the number of gene regions linked to depression, scientists now hope to understand more about why the disorder strikes some but not others, even when they have similar life experiences. The work could also help in the search for drugs to treat the condition which affects as many as one in four people over a lifetime.

Can we trust BMI to measure obesity?

(BBC News,4/26/2018, Philippa Roxby)

Have you ever had your body mass index (BMI) checked? Yikes. It can truly be a humbling experience. I work out and eat healthy and was shocked the last time I had my BMI measured. But is BMI the best measure of obesity? There are some people who carry a lot of muscle and little fat, like bodybuilders, boxers and rugby players. Muscle is much denser than fat so they may end up with a BMI that classifies them as obese, despite the fact they may be fit and healthy. But this is thought to apply to fewer than 1% of the population. Most people aren’t extreme athletes. What measuring your BMI does do is give a healthy weight range for a particular height, taking into account variations in body shape—and it provides a good starting point for the majority of people.

 

—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola