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Baked or broiled fish may help reduce the risk of stroke


The consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish is associated with a lower risk of stroke in the elderly, while eating fried fish or fish sandwiches is linked to a higher risk, according to an article in the January 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the elderly, who are the fastest-growing segment of the population," according to background information in the article. Results from studies of fish consumption and stroke risk are inconsistent, and none have focused on the elderly, in whom disease burden may be high. In addition, the effect of fish consumption on cardiovascular disease may depend on the type of fish consumed--broiled or baked fish as compared to fried fish or fish sandwiches.

Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., M.P.H., from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues examined the association between different types of fish meals and the risk of stroke in adults aged 65 years and older (average age = 72.7 years). Diet was assessed in 4,775 adults in 1989 – 1990 using a food questionnaire, which included how often, on average, patients consumed broiled or baked fish (including tuna), and fried fish or fish sandwiches. Participants were followed-up for 12 years.

Researchers identified a trend of a 14 percent lower stroke risk with a consumption of broiled or baked fish one to three times per month; this same amount and type of fish consumption was associated with a 15 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke. Eating broiled or baked fish one to four times per week, or five or more times per week was associated with a respective 28 percent and 32 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke. However, fried fish and fish sandwich consumption was associated with a 37 percent higher risk of all types of stroke and a 44 percent higher risk of ischemic stroke. Each serving of fried fish or fish sandwich per week increased the risk of a stroke by ten percent, with 13 percent higher risk for ischemic stroke. Average fish consumption was .7 servings of fried fish/fish sandwich, and 2.2 servings of broiled or baked fish.

"Although the observed associations may reflect dietary habits earlier in life, our findings suggest that diet may influence stroke risk beyond the earlier development of cardiovascular disease in young adulthood and middle age," the authors write. "Our findings also suggest that…preparation methods may be important when considering relationships of fish intake with stroke risk."

Kevin Myron | EurekAlert!
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