Quebec Researchers find omega-3 may prevent Parkinson's Disease

    TORONTO, Nov. 27 /CNW/ - Omega-3 Fatty Acids may play a role in
preventing Parkinson's Disease according to two Quebec scientists, funded by
Parkinson Society Canada. In a study at Laval University published in the
on-line FASEB Journal, (Federation of American Societies for Experimental
Biology) Drs. Francesa Cicchetti and Frédéric Calon showed that laboratory
mice fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, had a lower rate of dopamine loss
when subjected to MPTP, a chemical that mimics the dopamine loss that occurs
in people with Parkinson's Disease. Loss of dopamine producing cells causes
symptoms of Parkinson's disease to appear. These neurotransmitters are
responsible for movement.
    In the study, four groups of eight mice each were used. Two groups were
fed a diet high in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a specific type of omega-3. Two
groups had no DHA diet. Half of the mice were given MPTP, a toxic compound
that causes similar effects on the brain as Parkinson's. The mice that were
fed the DHA and received MPTP did not lose the dopamine cells suggesting that
the DHA offered protection from the MPTP.
    "If we can extrapolate this data to humans, reasonably high consumption
of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon and tuna, some types of
eggs, and dietary supplements, are likely to have a positive effect in
humans," said Dr. Calon. "Many people don't have enough omega-3 fatty acids in
their diets and could be at potential risk for neurological diseases," he
    Low dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a
higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids are an
essential nutrient that the body cannot produce but that are found in foods
such as fish and canola oil or in dietary supplements. "Our results suggest
that this DHA deficiency is a risk factor for developing Parkinson's disease,
and that we would benefit from evaluating omega-3's potential for preventing
and treating this disease in humans," concludes Dr. Calon.
    "We are encouraged by this groundbreaking research which may hold clues
on how to prevent Parkinson's disease," said Parkinson Society Canada
President & CEO, Joyce Gordon. "Our research program has given 19 Canadian
researchers $1 million this past year, alone."
    "The next steps would be to confirm these results in a different animal
model and then to move on to prove the same result in human clinical trials,"
said Dr. Calon.
    Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disease. When cells in the
brain that normally produce a chemical called "dopamine" die, symptoms of
Parkinson's appear. The most common symptoms are: tremor (shaking), slowness
in movements, muscle stiffness and problems with balance. Other symptoms that
may also occur for some people, include fatigue, difficulties with speech and
writing, sleep disorders, depression and cognitive changes.

    Parkinson Society Canada (PSC)'s mission is to fund research, support
services, advocacy and education.

For further information:

For further information: John Provenzano: (416) 227-3399, Cell: (416)

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