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Health Capsules
August 2009
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Questions Raised About “Depression Gene

A “depression risk” gene identified more than 5 years ago may not be linked to the mental illness after all, a new study reports.

Scientists believe that most mental disorders are caused by a complex interaction between genes and the environment. But it’s difficult to detect their precise roles.

In 2003, researchers thought they’d found a gene, the serotonin transporter gene, that affects the risk of major depression in people who’d experienced several stressful events. But follow-up research by other scientists raised questions about the 2003 study’s findings.

To take a closer look, scientists from NIH and 6 universities reviewed research studies that had looked into the connection. The team re-analyzed data on over 14,000 participants in 14 studies of depression and the serotonin transporter gene.

The researchers found a strong link between the number of stressful life events and the risk of depression. But the serotonin transporter gene seemed to have no effect on the risk for major depression, alone or in interaction with stressful life events.

Scientists note that it can be hard to distinguish between the modest effects of certain genes and the impact of environmental factors, like stressful life events. That’s why it’s important to conduct follow-up research to see if the results hold up with further study.

“We are still in the early days of understanding how genes and environment interact to increase the risk for depression,” says Dr. Thomas Insel, director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health.

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A stretch of DNA, a substance you inherit from your parents, that defines characteristics like height and eye color, along with how likely you are to get certain diseases.

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  Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes

A newly revised booklet—called Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and Their Families—is now available in both Spanish and English.

Tasty Recipes includes healthy food ideas with a Latin American flair. Learn how to make Spanish omelet, Caribbean red snapper, avocado tacos and other healthy dishes.

Each recipe comes with a Nutrition Facts table that lists calories, fat content and other dietary information. The book also includes tips for eating well and managing your diabetes. It’s a terrific addition to any kitchen.

To order a free copy of Tasty Recipes, call NIH’s National Diabetes Education Program toll-free at 1-888-693-6337, or visit A limited number of additional booklets can be purchased for $1 each. You can also download a PDF version to print yourself at no cost.

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A disease in which the body has trouble controlling the level of glucose—a type of sugar—in the blood.

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National Diabetes Education Program

Diabetes Overview



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NIH Education and Awareness Campaigns

This web site links you to some of NIH’s best ongoing campaigns to raise awareness of important health information. Many include easy-to-read fact sheets, posters, radio and TV spots and education kits. All these materials are free and available for use in your community.

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