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      Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms

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          Abstract

          The changing of omega-6/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the food supply of Western societies occurred over the last 150 years is thought to promote the pathogenesis of many inflammatory-related diseases, including depressive disorders. Several epidemiological studies reported a significant inverse correlation between intake of oily fish and depression or bipolar disorders. Studies conducted specifically on the association between omega-3 intake and depression reported contrasting results, suggesting that the preventive role of omega-3 PUFA may depend also on other factors, such as overall diet quality and the social environment. Accordingly, tertiary prevention with omega-3 PUFA supplement in depressed patients has reached greater effectiveness during the last recent years, although definitive statements on their use in depression therapy cannot be yet freely asserted. Among the biological properties of omega-3 PUFA, their anti-inflammatory effects and their important role on the structural changing of the brain should be taken into account to better understand the possible pathway through which they can be effective both in preventing or treating depression. However, the problem of how to correct the inadequate supply of omega-3 PUFA in the Westernized countries' diet is a priority in order to set food and health policies and also dietary recommendations for individuals and population groups.

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          Most cited references 170

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          Global mortality, disability, and the contribution of risk factors: Global Burden of Disease Study.

          Prevention and control of disease and injury require information about the leading medical causes of illness and exposures or risk factors. The assessment of the public-health importance of these has been hampered by the lack of common methods to investigate the overall, worldwide burden. The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) provides a standardised approach to epidemiological assessment and uses a standard unit, the disability-adjusted life year (DALY), to aid comparisons. DALYs for each age-sex group in each GBD region for 107 disorders were calculated, based on the estimates of mortality by cause, incidence, average age of onset, duration, and disability severity. Estimates of the burden and prevalence of exposure in different regions of disorders attributable to malnutrition, poor water supply, sanitation and personal and domestic hygiene, unsafe sex, tobacco use, alcohol, occupation, hypertension, physical inactivity, use of illicit drugs, and air pollution were developed. Developed regions account for 11.6% of the worldwide burden from all causes of death and disability, and account for 90.2% of health expenditure worldwide. Communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional disorders explain 43.9%; non-communicable causes 40.9%; injuries 15.1%; malignant neoplasms 5.1%; neuropsychiatric conditions 10.5%; and cardiovascular conditions 9.7% of DALYs worldwide. The ten leading specific causes of global DALYs are, in descending order, lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, perinatal disorders, unipolar major depression, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, tuberculosis, measles, road-traffic accidents, and congenital anomalies. 15.9% of DALYs worldwide are attributable to childhood malnutrition and 6.8% to poor water, and sanitation and personal and domestic hygiene. The three leading contributors to the burden of disease are communicable and perinatal disorders affecting children. The substantial burdens of neuropsychiatric disorders and injuries are under-recognised. The epidemiological transition in terms of DALYs has progressed substantially in China, Latin America and the Caribbean, other Asia and islands, and the middle eastern crescent. If the burdens of disability and death are taken into account, our list differs substantially from other lists of the leading causes of death. DALYs provide a common metric to aid meaningful comparison of the burden of risk factors, diseases, and injuries.
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            Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases.

            Shifting dietary patterns, a decline in energy expenditure associated with a sedentary lifestyle, an ageing population--together with tobacco use and alcohol consumption--are major risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and pose an increasing challenge to public health. This report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation reviews the evidence on the effects of diet and nutrition on chronic diseases and makes recommendations for public health policies and strategies that encompass societal, behavioural and ecological dimensions. Although the primary aim of the Consultation was to set targets related to diet and nutrition, the importance of physical activity was also emphasized. The Consultation considered diet in the context of the macro-economic implications of public health recommendations on agriculture and the global supply and demand for fresh and processed foodstuffs. In setting out ways to decrease the burden of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (including hypertension and stroke), cancer, dental diseases and osteoporosis, this report proposes that nutrition should be placed at the forefront of public health policies and programmes. This report will be of interest to policy-makers and public health professionals alike, in a wide range of disciplines including nutrition, general medicine and gerontology. It shows how, at the population level, diet and exercise throughout the life course can reduce the threat of a global epidemic of chronic diseases.
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              Systemic infections and inflammation affect chronic neurodegeneration.

              It is well known that systemic infections cause flare-ups of disease in individuals with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and that relapses in multiple sclerosis can often be associated with upper respiratory-tract infections. Here we review evidence to support our hypothesis that in chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, with an ongoing innate immune response in the brain, systemic infections and inflammation can cause acute exacerbations of symptoms and drive the progression of neurodegeneration.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Oxid Med Cell Longev
                Oxid Med Cell Longev
                OMCL
                Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                1942-0900
                1942-0994
                2014
                18 March 2014
                : 2014
                Affiliations
                1Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, Section of Pharmacology and Biochemistry, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy
                2Department of “G.F. Ingrassia”, Section of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania, Via S. Sofia 85, 95123 Catania, Italy
                3Department of Educational Sciences, University of Catania, Via Teatro Greco 84, 95124 Catania, Italy
                4IRCCS Associazione Oasi Maria S.S.-Institute for Research on Mental Retardation and Brain Aging, Via Conte Ruggiero 73, Enna, 94018 Troina, Italy
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Ryuichi Morishita

                Article
                10.1155/2014/313570
                3976923
                24757497
                Copyright © 2014 Giuseppe Grosso et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review Article

                Molecular medicine

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