The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Using cod-liver oil to lower the risk of depression

    There’s growing interest in the potential effect of omega-3 fatty acids on depression and subsequent afflictions such as heart disease.

    Here’s a study using the granddaddy of omega-3 formulations — cod-liver oil.

    First, the details.

    • The medical recorders from more than 21,000 Norwegian adults aged 40-49 and 70-74 years were studied.
    • All had symptoms of depression and anxiety.

    And, the results.

    • 9% of these people took cod-liver oil daily.
    • The prevalence of depressive symptoms in those who used cod-liver oil daily was 2.5%.
    • The prevalence was 3.8% in the rest of the population, a significant difference.
    • The results were still significant after accounting for the influence of age, gender, smoking habits, coffee consumption, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and education.
    • In the younger group, the prevalence of high levels of depressive symptoms decreased significantly as the duration of cod-liver oil use became prolonged from 0 to 12 months.
    • These data were not available in the older group.

    The bottom line?
    At first, the different between 2.5% and 3.8% might appear small, but it’s 30%.

    It’s unclear whether the benefits in this study were due to a direct anti-depressant effect of cod-liver oil, or because of its cardiovascular benefits. After all, healthy people tend to be less depressed.

    Regardless, it’s another positive study for omega-3 fatty acids and your grandma’s pharmacopeia.

    6/18/07 18:08 JR

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