Eating fish at least once a week can cut the risk of
sudden cardiac death in half, according to a new
study led by Dr. Christine Albert of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.
It suggests that diets that include a "low to moderate intake of fish -- at least one
fish meal per week -- (are) associated with a 52% lower risk of sudden death,"
compared with diets that put fish on the dinner table only once per month.
The New England Journal of Medicine (1997; 336:1046-1053) This study
found a 48% reduction in risk of heart attack death among men who ate about
35 grams of fish per day compared with men who did not eat fish. This finding
held true after accounting for differences in age, cigarette smoking, blood
cholesterol level, and blood pressure, as well as for obesity, education,
alcohol consumption, and many other dietary and demographic factors. That
reduction in risk climbed to 67% when nonsudden deaths from heart attack
Kremer JM, et al.; "Effects of high-dose fish oil on rheumatoid
arthritis after stopping nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Clinical
and immune correlates.", Arthritis Rheum, 38: 8, 1995 Aug, 1107-14
RESULTS. In the group taking fish oil, there were significant decreases
from baseline in the mean number of tender joints, duration of morning
stiffness, physician's and patient's evaluation of global arthritis activity,
and physician's evaluation of pain. In patients taking corn oil, no clinical
parameters improved from baseline. The decrease in the number of tender
joints remained significant 8 weeks after discontinuing diclofenac in patients
taking fish oil and the decrease in the number of tender joints at this
time was significant compared with that in patients receiving corn oil.
IL-1 beta decreased significantly from baseline through weeks 18 and 22
in patients consuming fish oil. CONCLUSION. Patients taking dietary
supplements of fish oil exhibit improvements in clinical parameters
of disease activity from baseline, including the number of tender joints,
and these improvements are associated with significant decreases in levels
of IL-1 beta from baseline. Some patients who take fish oil are able to
discontinue NSAIDs without experiencing a disease flare.
One study showed 12% reduction in cholesterol and a 40% reduction
of triglycerides with a 5% rise in HDL on 20 capsules of MaxEPA
per day. MaxEPA is a commercial preparation of marine lipids containing
180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per capsule. Such
a high dose may not be required for a long-term protective effect, since
in epidemiological studies the ingestion of fish a few days per week seems
to protect against heart attacks. Salmon oil is high in EPA.
Pauletto et al., (1996). Lancet 348:784. This study instead of
looking at Western groups, took two close villages where one lived by a
lake and ate a lot of fish compared to another village up in the hills
where the inhabitants were mostly vegetarian (high carbohydrates). Recognizing
that there may well be some subtle genetic differences, along with other
lifestyle behaviors, the authors controlled for age, sex, alcohol use.
The fish eaters averaged about 300 - 600 grams (10 - 20 ounces) of freshwater
fish per day. The results are striking. The fish eating group had lower
blood pressures. This resulted in less than 1/3 the prevalence of high
blood pressure among fish eaters. Total cholesterol was about 12% lower
and triglycerides were 35% lower compared to the vegetarians. Blood
levels of EPA and DHA were also substantially (2 to 3 times) higher in
the fish eaters.
Bulliyya et al., (1994) Indian J Med Sci. 48:256. This study
did a similar analysis to the above study in a region of India. The results
are similar in terms of cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol, triglycerides
and LDL were lower and HDL levels were higher in fish eaters. EPA and DHA
levels were also elevated.
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