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October 25, 2016
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Irresponsible Medical News

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A medical study released last month suggests that dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids may prevent the onset of Type 1 diabetes in children. You can read about it here.
Very exciting! I was about to put my kids on a salmon and tuna diet until I sat down to read the details.
The very first 2 words put me on guard - "preliminary research". Hmmm, that's not what the headlines have been saying. But, I know that headline real estate is precious.
The study lasted 12 years - a good sign, and included 1,770 children; also promising but still a fairly small sample considering the thousands or millions at risk. The average age at follow-up was 6.2 years. Hmmm again - a lot of folks with Type 1 that I know were diagnosed well past that age.
The final "thing that makes you say 'hmmm'" is that the diet was measured using a food frequency questionnaire. You can't lock growing kids up and measure every morsel that goes in their mouth, but how accurate could that be? I'm raising 2 kids under the age of 6 and I barely have time to log my own food. Plus what I put on the table does not equal what ends up in my son's stomach.
I don't fault the researchers; they were very clear that this was just a study possibly pointing at a correlation. But the headline writers! A quick search of Yahoo News turns up "Omega-3 fatty acids protect against diabetes: study" or "Omega-3s Guard Against Type 1 Diabetes".
No wonder people are so confused about diet and supplements. Coffee's good this morning, but next week it will be bad. Cinnamon lowers your blood sugar - oh wait, no it doesn't.
Before you run out and spend your hard-earned cash on the latest supplement read the fine print and details. Or better yet, ask your doctor, they understand phrases like "the case-cohort study" and are trained to analyze this type of information.
I think the bottom line remains the same as it ever was - eat a well balanced, well rounded diet in moderation and only take supplements that your doctor ok's.

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