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Can eating fish help prevent heart disease? It depends – The Globe and Mail



New research is questioning if Omega-3 fatty acids in fish reduce inflammation, lower blood triglycerides (fats) and make the blood less likely to clot.

LINDA XIAO/The New York Times News Service

We’ve been told for years to eat fish, especially oily fish, twice a week to guard against heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood triglycerides (fats) and make the blood less likely to clot.

Now, new research questions that advice.

According to the study, published March 8th in JAMA Internal Medicine, eating two servings of fish each week did not offer protection from heart disease in healthy people. Among individuals with existing heart disease or diabetes, however, regularly eating fish did provide modest cardiovascular benefits.

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About the study

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton analyzed data from 191,558 participants enrolled in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study.

Participants, average age 54, did not have cardiovascular disease and provided complete information about their usual diets. They were followed for nine years.

Compared with eating little or no fish (less than two ounces a month), eating at least 12 ounces a week was not associated with the risk of a major cardiovascular event (e.g., heart attack, stroke, sudden cardiac death, congestive heart failure) or total mortality.

The researchers also pooled data from three previous randomized controlled trials conducted in 40 countries involving 43,413 participants who had cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The risk of a major cardiovascular event and death was the lowest among people who ate six to twelve ounces of fish a week, compared with those who consumed little or no fish. Eating more than 12 ounces of fish a week was not associated with further heart benefits.

Fish higher in omega-3 fatty acids were more strongly tied to protection.

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For both analyses, the researchers accounted for other cardiovascular risk factors including age, sex, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol intake and fruit and vegetable intake.


These new findings support the heart health benefits of eating two servings of fish a week for people who have cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The fact, however, that the researchers didn’t find benefits in healthy people shouldn’t stop you from following current dietary advice to consume fish twice a week. This analysis has limitations.

The type fish eaten and how fish was cooked were not assessed in the PURE study. It’s not known, for example, if higher intakes of fish low in omega-3 fats and/or deep-fried fish may have explained the lack of a protective effect.

As well, dietary information in the PURE study was self-reported and, as a result, can be prone to error.

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Bottom line: This one study doesn’t alter the existing large body of evidence that supports the cardiac benefits of fish consumption in healthy populations.

Fish intake advice

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week; a serving is typically three ounces of cooked fish.

The protective effects of fish are largely attributed to its two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Good sources include salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, trout, Arctic char, anchovies and albacore tuna.

To minimize mercury exposure, women of childbearing age, especially women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, and children younger than 11, should avoid eating high-mercury fish, which include swordfish, shark, marlin, orange roughy, king mackerel and escolar.

Albacore tuna may also be high in mercury depending on where it is from. If it’s fished in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, it is low in mercury. When buying canned albacore tuna, look for “product of Canada” on the label.

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Canned light tuna, which contains skipjack, yellowfin and tongol species, is relatively low in mercury.

Enjoy fish baked, poached, steamed or grilled, cooking methods that cause minimal loss of omega-3 fatty acids. Deep-frying and pan-frying fish at high temperatures can destroy these beneficial fats.

Fish delivers other nutrients too. B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium, iodine, potassium and certain proteins in seafood may also confer health benefits.

If you don’t eat fish, consider taking a fish oil capsule. While not conclusive, evidence from the VITAL trial, published in 2018, suggests that doing so may lower the risk of heart attack.

DHA supplements made from algae are available for people who follow a vegan diet.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD

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Sanofi-GSK report positive interim results for their COVID-19 shot



An experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline showed a robust immune response in early-stage clinical trial results, enabling them to move to a late-stage study, the French drugmaker said on Monday.

Sanofi and Britain’s GSK said a global Phase III trial would start in the coming weeks and involve more than 35,000 adults, with the hope of seeing the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year before a setback.

Sanofi and GSK last December were forced to restart their trial when the vaccine showed a low immune response in older adults as a result of a weak antigen formulation.

Sanofi and GSK shares were little changed in early trading.

“The Phase II interim results showed 95% to 100% seroconversion following a second injection in all age groups and across all doses, with acceptable tolerability and no safety concerns,” Sanofi said.

Seroconversion refers to the vaccine’s ability to prompt the body to produce antibodies against the coronavirus, as measured by blood readings. Later mass trials will be based on real infections.

“Interestingly, we also observed that our vaccine generated a higher antibody response in those with previous COVID-19 infection, we are analysing this further as it may suggest our vaccine could serve as a potential booster, regardless of what vaccine someone may have received (beforehand),” Su-Peing Ng, Sanofi’s global head of medical for vaccines, told reporters.

Ng said the vaccine had not been tested against so-called variants in the Phase II trial but that the Phase III study would be assessing it against various strains including a virus lineage known as B.1.351 first detected in South Africa.

But Sanofi, Ng said, has conducted parallel studies evaluating its vaccines against variants, with results expected to be published soon.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.


Some 162.75 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019, while economies have taken a hit and restrictions have turned daily life upside down.

The United States and Europe have embarked on mass vaccinations programmes in the past months, raising hopes of a gradual reopening, although the virus is still in circulation in many regions, with variants causing concern.

Last month, the European Union executive’s President Ursula von der Leyen said protein-based COVID-19 vaccines such as the one developed by Sanofi and GSK offered “quite a potential”, a positive signal as the bloc develops its purchasing strategy for the next two years.

Sanofi’s shot, however, even if approved, will come long after ones from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which have produced efficacy results of more than 90%.

So far, Sanofi has purchasing agreements with the United States, the EU, Britain and Canada, as well as with the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility.

The company has pledged to help other drugmakers this year, striking “fill and finish” deals for vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

In addition to its vaccine project in collaboration with GSK, Sanofi is working on a mRNA candidate with U.S. company Translate Bio for which it has started clinical trials.


(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751



More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.




United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.


(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall



Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.


(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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