Health news

Thérèse Henkin re­ports on over­tired doc­tors, obese dads and a de­vel­op­ment in breast can­cer treat­ment.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

SLIP­PERY SUB­JECT

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.

Father fig­ure

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.”

PROMIS­ING TRIAL

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.

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