Skip to main content

Regular weekly portion of fatty fish can halve rheumatoid arthritis risk

A study published online today in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases indicates that a regular weekly portion of fatty fish, such as salmon, or four servings of lean fish, such as cod, can halve the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The benefits of a fishy diet, which needs to be kept up for at least a decade, are largely attributable to its long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content, confirm the researchers.

They collected information on the dietary habits of more than 32,000 women born between 1914 and 1948, whose health was tracked between 2003 and 2010 as part of the Swedish Mammography Cohort population based study.

The researchers were particularly keen to assess dietary intake of omega 3 PUFAs as previous evidence shows that they have anti-inflammatory properties.

The women, all of whom lived in two counties of Sweden, completed a questionnaire on dietary intake, height, weight, motherhood and educational attainment between 1987 and 1990.

In 1997, the 56,000 who were still alive were sent a similar questionnaire, requesting further information on smoking, exercise, use of dietary supplements and aspirin.

As part of the dietary information requested, the women completed food frequency questionnaires, in which they detailed how often and how much they ate any of 67 (1987) and 96 (1997) foods. This included a range of fatty and lean fish.

During the monitoring period, 205 women were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Across the entire group, there was a fourfold difference in omega 3 PUFA consumption between the 20% eating the most and the 20% eating the least.

Women who consumed the least included the highest proportion of smokers and the lowest proportion of alcohol drinkers and aspirin takers. Smoking is a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis while moderate alcohol and aspirin are protective.

Among those who developed the condition, more than one in four (27%) had a dietary omega 3 PUFA intake of less than 0.21g a day, compared with one in five women across the entire group who consumed this amount.

Some 61% of the women consumed the same amount of omega 3 PUFAs and 64% the same amount of fish at both time points.

Those whose intake of omega 3 PUFAs exceeded 0.21g a day, equivalent to at least one serving of fatty fish or four servings of lean fish a week, in both 1987 and 1997, had half the risk (52% lower) of rheumatoid arthritis of women who consumed less in both years.

And regularly eating one or more servings of all types of fish every week for at least 10 years was linked to an overall 29% reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared with eating less than one portion a week.

“The inverse association between fish consumption and [rheumatoid arthritis] can be attributed mainly to its content of long chain [omega] 3 PUFAs,” conclude the authors, who add that their findings indicate a potentially important role for these substances in the development of the disease.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

Noise pollution puts nature at risk

 "I just want a bit of peace and quiet!" Let's get away from all the hustle and bustle; the sound of endless traffic on the roads, of the trains on the railway, and the planes in the sky; the incessant drone; the noise. We live in a world of man-made noise; screeching, bellowing, on-and-on in an unmelodious cacophony.  This constant background noise has now become a significant health hazard.   With average background levels of 60 decibels, those who live in cities are often exposed to noise over 85 decibels, enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.  It causes stress, high blood pressure, headache and loss of sleep and poor health and well-being.   In nature, noise has content and significance.  From the roar of the lion, the laughing of a hyena,  communication is essential for life; as the warning of danger, for bonding as a group or a pair, finding a mate, or for establishing a position in a hierarchy - chattering works.  Staying in touch is vital to working

Therapeutic animal stress

Interacting with animals is known to be therapeutic,  particularly in reducing stress.  But do we consider sufficiently the effects this may have on the animals involved?   We might assume that because it is calming for us, then it must be so for the therapeutic animals, but is this so?  New research suggests that it isn't always without stress for the animals involved.  Positive human-animal interaction relates to changes in physiological variables both in humans and other animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress (fear, anxiety) and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain.  It also reduces the 'stress' hormone, cortisol. Indeed, these biological responses have measurable clinical benefits.  Oxytocin has long been implicated in maternal bonding, sexual behaviour and social affiliation behaviours and in promoting a sense of well-being .  So far, so good.  We humans often turn to animals for stress relief, companionship, and even therapy.  We kno