Thérèse Henkin reports on overtired doctors, obese dads and a development in breast cancer treatment.
Among many health benefits attributed to it, omega-3 fish oil has been cited as improving cognitive performance. But taking the supplement during pregnancy may not result in smarter kids. The Auckland researchers of a recent fish oil study have found capsules taken by women during pregnancy were not shown to improve the intellectual outcome of their offspring when assessed in early or mid-childhood.
Children’s health is not all down to Mum. Sydney scientists have found that obesity in fathers can put their children and grandchildren at greater risk of developing metabolic problems such as diabetes and heart disease. “A baby’s health has long been considered a mother’s responsibility as soon as she falls pregnant,” says Associate Professor Catherine Suter, from the Victor Chang Institute. “But we need to be aware that Dad’s health is just as important.”
Patients battling advanced breast cancer could be spared needless treatments with a DNA-based technique that uses personalised blood tests to closely monitor tumours. With fresh funding from the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (NZBCF), leading researcher Professor Parry Guilford will monitor tumour DNA found in the bloodstream and compare this with samples of the patient’s removed tumour to detect changes. “These ‘ctDNA’ markers are tightly linked to the tumour, so if you can see them rising, you know the tumour is growing, and if they’re falling, the tumour is shrinking,” he said. The $130,000 study has already delivered promising results in a trial involving 50 patients.