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CRN debunks latest omega-3 study

BY Michael Johnsen

SEATTLE — A second large, prospective study by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center released on Wednesday that claimed to confirm the link between high blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and an increased risk of prostate cancer drew a stark industry response from supplement trade associations.

"While we encourage researchers to continue to study omega-3 fatty acids with an open mind, it is counterproductive when studying nutrition for researchers to promote their study as if it were the only piece of research that counts," Duffy MacKay, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, released in a statement. "In this case in particular, it is especially disingenuous for the researchers to make the kinds of assertions we’ve seen in the press, given their results are in stark contrast to previous epidemiologic studies that … in many cases showed [omega-3 consumption had] a protective effect against prostate cancer."

Published July 11 in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the latest findings suggested that high concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA — the three anti-inflammatory and metabolically related fatty acids derived from fatty fish and fish-oil supplements — are associated with a 71% increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The study also found a 44% increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer and an overall 43% increase in risk for all prostate cancers.

The same Fred Hutch scientific team reported a similar link in a 2011 study .

However, rather than marking a cause-effect link between omega-3 consumption and increased cancer incidence, the study could have been measuring a biomarker reflecting recent intake of fish or fish oil supplements in a group of high risk cancer patients that had been told to increase their EPA and DHA levels. Comparitively, the group of non-cancer patients may have not been given the same health recommendation.

The current study analyzed data and specimens collected from men who participated in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), a large randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test whether selenium and vitamin E, either alone or combined, reduced prostate cancer risk. That study, which hadn’t been designed to track omega-3 consumption incidentally, found no benefit from selenium intake and an increase in prostate cancers in men who took vitamin E. "The researchers [are] quick to blame dietary supplements even though there is no evidence that anybody in this study took fish oil dietary supplements," MacKay noted. "In fact, the study demonstrates no cause and effect; it can only purport to show an association between higher plasma levels of omega-3 fatty acids and those whom the researchers advise had an increased rate of prostate cancer."  

The American Heart Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s Food Nutrition Board and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines all have current policies advising Americans to eat more fatty fish to get the benefits of omega-3 fish oils. "It is highly unlikely this one study will change that advice," MacKay said. "For those consumers who have concerns about prostate cancer or other questions about omega-3 fatty acids, we recommend speaking with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner.”


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Reports: Meijer to open first Detroit store on July 25

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Mass merchandise chain Meijer is set to open its first store in the city of Detroit later this month, according to published reports.

Crain’s Detroit Business reported Thursday that the shelves at the new store were being stocked in preparation for a July 25 opening. Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., operates more than 200 stores around the Midwest and Kentucky, including Michigan.

The store will anchor a new shopping center and will feature a grocery section, drive-thru pharmacy, gas station and Huntington National Bank branch. Other tenants at the shopping center will include clothing and pet supply stores and fast food restaurants.

According to local CBS affiliate WWJ, the new store is one of the first chain grocery stores to open in Detroit in decades. A Whole Foods opened in the city several weeks ago.

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Slate calls Walgreens Chicago flagship ‘the best drug store in the world’

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — OK, it’s all a matter of opinion, but an endorsement in a major media outlet is still something to crow about.

In an article posted Thursday, Slate writer Matthew Yglesias called Walgreens’ Chicago flagship store "the best drug store in the world," citing its selection of liquor, in-store wine tastings and a touchscreen display that offers cocktail recipes. Also mentioned were the "vitamin vault," located inside an actual vault — the store is in what used to be bank and, Yglesias wrote, "Good design of the aisles and great lighting even manages to make gas relief seem glamorous."

Yglesias had previously touted the chain’s Washington flagship.

DSN has been reporting on the new store formats offered by pharmacy retailers for a while, but it looks like consumer media are starting to take notice of the latest developments in the industry as well.

Click here for the story.

 

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