Black Americans with severe depression are more likely to be misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia than white patients, a study found. It builds on years of evidence that clinicians’ racial biases affect diagnoses. In the study, published in the journal Psychiatric Services, researchers examined the records of more than 1,600 people; about 600 were black and about 1,000 were nonLatino whites. They found about 20 percent of black patients diagnosed with schizophrenia also screened positive for major depression — nearly double the percentage of comparable white patients. That suggests some of the black patients may have been misdiagnosed, said Michael Gara, professor of psychiatry at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “People stereotype,” he said. “It’s not necessarily malicious, they do it implicitly. It’s automatic.”

Omega-3 may ease asthma symptoms

Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce symptoms of childhood asthma, while omega-6 fats may aggravate them, a small Johns Hopkins study suggests. Omega-3s are found in high concentrations in fish and walnuts. Omega-6 sources include corn oil and other vegetable oils. Some foods contain both. Researchers studied 135 asthmatic children, ages 5 to 12. The study, in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that higher omega-6 intake was associated with increased asthma severity, more severe effects of particulate pollution on asthmatic symptoms, and increased blood levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell associated with inflammation. Children with higher omega-3 intake, on the other hand, had milder symptomatic reactions to indoor pollution, and lower blood levels of neutrophils.

Sugary beverages tied to death risk

Drinking sugary beverages is associated with a slightly increased risk for early death, a study found. Researchers used data from two large continuing health studies begun in the 1980s that include more than 118,000 men and women. Researchers found that each additional daily 12-ounce serving of sugary drinks was associated with a 7 percent increased risk for death from any cause, a 5 percent increased risk for cancer death, and a 10 percent increased risk for death from cardiovascular disease. The study appears in the journal Circulation. “The optimal intake of these drinks is zero,” said the lead author, Vasanti S. Malik, a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “They have no health benefits.”

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