In the News: Fish Oil May Increase Liver Disease Risk, Smiling While Running Improves Performance, Flu Increases Heart Attack Risk

Fish oil may increase the risk of fatty liver disease later in life. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a type of liver disease caused by the buildup of fat unrelated to consumption of alcohol; some of the biggest risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, so it is clearly greatly influenced by diet and fat consumption. With this in mind, Professor José Luis Quiles and his colleagues at Spain’s University of Granada set out to discover the comparable effects of sunflower oil, fish oil, and virgin olive oil on the liver. In this study, where researchers analyzed rats over the entire course of their lives, they found that olive oil was the best option for liver health. Lifelong consumption of sunflower oil and fish oil led to liver fibrosis (scarring) and impaired cell function in the organ. However, fish oil has already been proven to benefit your health in numerous other ways, such as memory and mental health benefits, heart and cardiovascular health improvement, a decrease in postpartum depression, and better vision. Therefore, like most things, the key is moderation, and you can decide how much fish oil you want to incorporate into your diet based on your individual health concerns. (MNT)

Smiling while you run may increase endurance and improve performance. Exercise scientists have known for a while that your endurance hinges greatly on psychological factors along with physical ones, and that perceived effort has a big effect on performance. In general, the less effort we feel we are using, the better our performance. However, for the first time, these known facts were taken to an even more specific level in a study that tested how manipulating your facial expression while running would affect your endurance. The study, which was conducted on 24 club-level runners, showed that they used 2.8 percent less energy when smiling than frowning and 2.2 percent less energy when smiling than when they had neutral facial expressions. It follows the idea of embodied emotion, which says your facial expression can affect how you feel. There is still a question as to why, but the results as of now suggest that smiling during your workout is definitely worth a try to increase your endurance – and feel better while you do it. Want to give exercise a go? Try this quick workout. (CNN)

Having the flu raises heart attack risk. Doctors have suspected for years that the flu can kill indirectly as well as directly, and this was confirmed in a new five-year study. The researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario found that people who had the flu had a six times greater risk of heart attack in the seven days after it subsided. This suggests that people with heart conditions should take extra care to avoid influenza (vaccinations, hand-washing), but the risk in that seven-day period was equal among people who had never had a heart attack and those who had. Other respiratory diseases are correlated with higher heart attack risk, but none so much as the flu. The researchers particularly want to share their findings to encourage more people to get the flu vaccination if they have not already, given the particularly bad flu season we are experiencing this year. To learn more about what to eat this flu season, check out this gallery. (NBC)