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What's different about DHA metabolism in schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that interferes with a person's ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. Symptoms include: hallucinations, delusions, altered senses, an inability to respond appropriately socially or to other exteral stimuli, changes in behavior and emotions, and an altered self-image. It affects 1% of the American population, and its cause is unknown. Researchers are just beginning to explore how a difference in DHA metabolism plays a role in the disease.
Dr. S. Mahadik at the Medical College of Georgia reported that people with schizophrenia do not efficiently convert EPA into DHA. From Chapter One, we learned that an enzyme can make this conversion in normal, healthy cells, thus allowing us to form DHA from a simpler fatty acid. However, the level of this enzyme seems to be lower in cells of schizophreic patients. This finding corroborates a report by Dr. Laugharne at the Second International Congress of the International Society for Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids held in Washington, D.C. Dr. Laugharne gave his patients 10g EPA and DHA and in the course of several weeks noted that as the level of these fatty acids rose in the blood, so did the improvements in schizophrenic symptoms. While these findings are preliminary and much work remains to clarify DHA's role in schizophrenia, DHA and other fatty acids promise to be useful in treating the disorder in the future.
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