Healing Ambassador of Science

Breast Cancer Prevention




Evolutionary Medicine


Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids in Blood and Breast Tissue of High-Risk Women and Association with Atypical Cytomorphology



The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, especially the long-chain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to arachidonic acid (AA) ratio, is inversely associated with breast cancer risk. We measured the association between cytologic atypia, a biomarker for short-term risk of breast cancer development, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake and levels in blood and breast tissue. Blood and benign breast tissue, sampled by random periareolar fine-needle aspiration (RPFNA), was obtained from 70 women at elevated risk for breast cancer. Self-reported dietary intake was assessed by the NCI's Food Frequency Questionnaire. The fatty acid composition of five lipid compartments, red blood cell, plasma and breast phospholipids, and plasma and breast triaclyglycerides (TAG), was analyzed by gas chromatography as weight percent. Median daily intakes of EPA+DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids were 80 mg and 1.1 g, respectively. The median total omega-3:6 intake ratio was 1:10. Compared with women without atypia, those with cytologic atypia had lower total omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cell and plasma phospholipids and lower omega-3:6 ratios in plasma TAGs and breast TAGs (P < 0.05). The EPA+DHA:AA ratio in plasma TAGs was also lower among women with atypia. This is the first report of associations between tissue levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and a reversible tissue biomarker of breast cancer risk. RPFNA cytomorphology could serve as a surrogate endpoint for breast cancer prevention trials of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Cancer Prev Res; 8(5); 359–64. ©2015 AACR.

Accepted February 16, 2015 ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.

Brandon H. Hidaka1, Shengqi Li1, Katherine E. Harvey1, Susan E. Carlson1, Debra K. Sullivan1,Bruce F. Kimler2, Carola M. Zalles3, and Carol J. Fabian4,*





There has been much speculation about modern environments causing an epidemic of depression. This review aims to (1) determine whether depression rates have increased and (2) review evidence for possible explanations. While available data indicate rising prevalence and an increased lifetime risk for younger cohorts, strong conclusions cannot be drawn due to conflicting results and methodological flaws. There are numerous potential explanations for changing rates of depression. Cross-cultural studies can be useful for identifying likely culprits. General and specific characteristics of modernization correlate with higher risk. A positive correlation between a country's GDP per capita, as a quantitative measure of modernization, and lifetime risk of a mood disorder trended toward significance (p=0.06). Mental and physical well-being are intimately related. The growing burden of chronic diseases, which arise from an evolutionary mismatch between past human environments and modern-day living, may be central to rising rates of depression. Declining social capital and greater inequality and loneliness are candidate mediators of a depressiogenic social milieu. Modern populations are increasingly overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sunlight-deficient, sleep-deprived, and socially-isolated. These changes in lifestyle each contribute to poor physical health and affect the incidence and treatment of depression. The review ends with a call for future research and policy interventions to address this public health crisis.

Journal of Affective Disorders
Volume 140, Issue 3, Pages 205–214

Brandon H. Hidaka

Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center

Received: September 26, 2011; Received in revised form: November 22, 2011; Accepted: December 14, 2011;



The status of evolutionary medicine education in North American medical schools



Medical and public health scientists are using evolution to devise new strategies to solve major health problems. But based on a 2003 survey, medical curricula may not adequately prepare physicians to evaluate and extend these advances. This study assessed the change in coverage of evolution in North American medical schools since 2003 and identified opportunities for enriching medical education.

In 2013, curriculum deans for all North American medical schools were invited to rate curricular coverage and perceived importance of 12 core principles, the extent of anticipated controversy from adding evolution, and the usefulness of 13 teaching resources. Differences between schools were assessed by Pearson’s chi-square test, Student’s t-test, and Spearman’s correlation. Open-ended questions sought insight into perceived barriers and benefits.

Despite repeated follow-up, 60 schools (39%) responded to the survey. There was no evidence of sample bias. The three evolutionary principles rated most important were antibiotic resistance, environmental mismatch, and somatic selection in cancer. While importance and coverage of principles were correlated (r = 0.76, P < 0.01), coverage (at least moderate) lagged behind importance (at least moderate) by an average of 21% (SD = 6%). Compared to 2003, a range of evolutionary principles were covered by 4 to 74% more schools. Nearly half (48%) of responders anticipated igniting controversy at their medical school if they added evolution to their curriculum. The teaching resources ranked most useful were model test questions and answers, case studies, and model curricula for existing courses/rotations. Limited resources (faculty expertise) were cited as the major barrier to adding more evolution, but benefits included a deeper understanding and improved patient care.

North American medical schools have increased the evolution content in their curricula over the past decade. However, coverage is not commensurate with importance. At a few medical schools, anticipated controversy impedes teaching more evolution. Efforts to improve evolution education in medical schools should be directed toward boosting faculty expertise and crafting resources that can be easily integrated into existing curricula.



Brandon H Hidaka1*, Anila Asghar2, C Athena Aktipis3, Randolph M Nesse3, Terry M Wolpaw4, Nicole K Skursky5, Katelyn J Bennett5, Matthew W Beyrouty5 and Mark D Schwartz5

Published:8 March 2015 © 2015 Hidaka et al.; licensee BioMed Central
The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/15/38