Today’s Headlines: Unsaturated Fats, Ovarian Cancer and Weight Loss

Eating unsaturated fats balances weight gain. Gaining a few pounds may not seem like a big deal, but your body responds to the weight with resistance to insulin (a precursor of diabetes) and decreased blood vessel function. New research out this week has found that “unsaturated fats in the diet improved cholesterol levels despite the extra calories and subsequent weight gain.” A group of study participants increased their calories with muffins made with either saturated or unsaturated fats. “After seven weeks, each group had gained between two and three percent of their body weight, about 3.5 pounds (1.5 kilos) each, and waist girth increased by about one percent, but blood pressure did not change significantly.” When researchers looked at their blood, “the unsaturated oil group had lower cholesterol and lipid levels at the end of the study than they had at the beginning of the study. For the saturated oil group, cholesterol went up. Both groups showed signs of increased insulin resistance.” It seems that keeping your diet high in these fats is another way to protect yourself from the side effects of weight gain. (Reuters)

Researchers develop new tool for predicting ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer can be a tricky disease to detect. Its late discovery often means that it’s far more deadly than it might have been had it been found earlier. A group of researchers found a way to aggregate key data to determine how likely a finding in a woman’s abdomen is to be a cyst or a cancer. “The metric uses a combination of patient information, blood test results and ultrasound scans to predict the malignancy, type and stage of the cancer.” The tool isn’t just important for staging cancer: “It’s very important to get the pre-operative diagnosis right. If it isn’t right, the patient might have a more extensive operation than they need, for example having an ovary removed unnecessarily. That ovary removal could be a critical issue for young women in terms of fertility.” Earlier detection and better operations could shift women towards earlier stage cancer, where survival is 90%. (BBC)

When losing weight, it doesn’t matter how fast you do it. You might have heard that losing weight gradually helps you keep off the pounds, but a new study out this week has found that slow or fast, it doesn’t make much of a difference. “Despite its austerity, the extreme diet worked better for more people than the gradual diet, according to the study. Among the volunteers who made it to the end of the weight-loss portion of the study, 81% of those on the rapid plan lost at least 12.5% of their body weight. For volunteers on the gradual diet, only 62% achieved the same goal.” Despite the weight loss, gradual dieters saw better improvements in hip and waist circumference. The researchers then followed up three years later to see whether participants had regained the weight. “The net result after more than three years: Those who followed the gradual diet ended up losing 0.44 pounds more, on average, than those who followed the rapid diet.” (LA Times)