Eating Oily Fish Weekly Defends Against Stroke;
Supplements Less Effective
Results from use of long chain omega 3 fatty acid
came from 38 studies involving nearly 800,000 individuals in 15
31, 2012 - Eating at least two servings of oily fish a week is
moderately but significantly associated with a reduced risk of stroke,
finds a study published on bmj.com. But, taking fish oil supplements
doesn't seem to have the same effect, say the researchers.
Regular consumption of fish and long chain omega 3
fatty acids has been linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart
disease and current guidelines recommend eating at least two portions of
fish a week, preferably oily fish like mackerel and sardines. But
evidence supporting a similar benefit for stroke remains unclear.
So an international team of researchers, led by Dr.
Rajiv Chowdhury at Cambridge University and Professor Oscar H. Franco at
Erasmus MC Rotterdam, analyzed the results of 38 studies to help clarify
the association between fish consumption and risk of stroke or
mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack or TIA). Collectively, these
conditions are known as cerebrovascular disease.
The 38 studies involved nearly 800,000 individuals
in 15 countries and included patients with established cardiovascular
disease (secondary prevention studies) as well as lower risk people
without the disease (primary prevention studies). Differences in study
quality were taken into account to identify and minimize bias.
Fish and long chain omega 3 fatty acid consumption
was assessed using dietary questionnaires, identifying markers of omega
3 fats in the blood, and recording use of fish oil supplements. A total
of 34,817 cerebrovascular events were recorded during the studies.
After adjusting for several risk factors,
participants eating two to four servings a week had a moderate but
significant 6% lower risk of cerebrovascular disease compared with those
eating one or fewer servings of fish a week, while participants eating
five or more servings a week had a 12% lower risk.
An increment of two servings per week of any fish
was associated with a 4% reduced risk of cerebrovascular disease. In
contrast, levels of omega 3 fats in the blood and fish oil supplements
were not significantly associated with a reduced risk.
Several reasons could explain the beneficial impact
of eating fish on vascular health, say the authors. For example, it may
be due to interactions between a wide range of nutrients, like vitamins
and essential amino acids, commonly found in fish.
more fish may lead to a reduction in other foods, like red meat, that
are detrimental to vascular health. Or higher fish intake may simply be
an indicator of a generally healthier diet or higher socioeconomic
status, both associated with better vascular health.
The differences seen between white and oily fish
may be explained by the way they are typically cooked (white fish is
generally battered and deep fried, adding potentially damaging fats).
Although there's a possibility that some other
unmeasured (confounding) factor may explain their results, the authors
conclude that "they reinforce a potentially modest beneficial role of
fish intake in the cause of cerebrovascular disease."
In addition, they say their findings are in line
with current dietary guidelines that encourage fish consumption for all;
and intake of fish oils to people with pre-existing or at high risk of
heart disease. They also support the view that future nutritional
guidelines should be principally "food based."
In an accompanying editorial, authors from the
Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University suggest that
although it is "reasonable" to advise patients that eating one or two
portions of fish per week could reduce the risk of coronary heart
disease and stroke, any benefit of long chain omega 3 fatty acid
supplementation is likely to be small. They say it is possible, however,
that patients with additional risk factors such as diabetes may benefit.
More Links to Archived Stories about Omega-3 Fatty Acids
UK researchers find omega-3 fatty acids slow down osteoarthritis, at least in guinea pigs; I think it worked for me!
By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com
Oct. 17, 2011 – As an active
– well very active – tennis player for many years, when I turned 70 I was worried my playing days might end due to my aching knees. I never
took the court without wearing the latest in knee protection devices. Then, shortly after I increased my daily regimen of fish oil pills, the
knee pain disappeared. I was convinced my joints were now better “oiled.” New research says there may be something to this.
Related Archive Stories
A number of studies have now linked Omega-3 with reducing the risk of
AMD - major cause of blindness in senior citizens
New study supports earlier finding that eating fish helps prevent Alzheimer’s
July 22, 2003
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