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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

(Photo: U.S. Army Public Health Command)
(Photo: U.S. Army Public Health Command)

Study links DHA levels to military suicide risk

By Lynda Waddington | 08.24.11 | 12:17 pm

Scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism teamed with researchers at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Maryland to analyze a sample of suicide deaths among U.S. military personnel on active duty between 2002 and 2008. The researchers compared levels of omega-3 fatty acids of 800 individuals who committed suicide with those of 800 randomly selected controls — service members who were matched with the suicide cases by age, sex and rank.

They found that all the service members had low omega-3 levels, and that suicide risk was greatest among individuals with the lowest levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid concentrated in the brain.

Capt. Joseph R. Hibbeln, M.D., led the NIAAA team, and full results of the study are being reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

The findings, according to Hibbeln, add to an extensive body of research that points to a fundamental role of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against mental illness problems and suicide risks.

“For example, an previous placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that two grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day reduced suicidal thinking by 45 percent as well as depression and anxiety scores among individuals with recurrent self-harm,” said Hibbeln.

“In a prior study we found that low blood levels of DHA correlated with hyperactivity of brain regions in a pattern that closely resembles the pathology of major depression and suicide risk. While omega-3 fatty acids are generally recommended by the American Psychiatric Association as an adjunctive therapy for mood disorders, more research is needed to establish a definitive role for their use in the stand alone treatment of depression.”

It is believed that the identification of low DHA status as a significant risk factor for suicide deaths should complement ongoing efforts in the U.S. military to study modifiable risk and protective factors related to mental health and suicide among personnel. The study presents new information on the potential usefulness of omega-3 fats in reducing risk for suicide and optimizing mental health, which can be taken into account when designing U.S. military diets.

The question of whether omega-3 fats can enhance stress resilience, wellness and military performance was part of a workshop co-hosted by the Samueli Institute, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the NIAAA and NIH. Presenters at that workshop advocated that such fats may play a role in reducing inflammation, improving blood flow, enhancing immune function, general mood, cholesterol reduction, lessening obesity risk and assisting in the prevention of cancer cell growth.

A videocast of day one of that workshop is embedded below:

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, walnuts, fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring), cloves, oregano, mustard seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, raw tofu, soybeans, shrimp, scallops, winter and summer squash, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, raspberries, and brussel sprouts. Of those foods listed, all except flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, mackerel and herring require more than a 100 gram portion.

The research is important not only as suicide prevention but due to the fact that psychiatric disorders — mood, substance abuse, anxiety — currently account for four of the top 10 causes for hospital stays among U.S. military personnel.

Most recent suicide data for military personnel — from last year, which included National Guard and reservists — showed an average of 25 soldiers killed themselves each month. Overall, the Army suicide rate has more than doubled since 2004 from 10 per 100,000 to 20 per 100,000 active-duty personnel.

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