Study: Fish reduces Alzheimer's disease risk

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Consumption of grilled or baked fish at least once a week can preserve the brain structure of seniors and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by three to five times, according to the results of a recent US study.

The study, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, asked 260 volunteers with an average age of 76, about the frequency of their fish consumption. Ten years later, brain scans were carried out on those being researched. Those who regularly ate fish were found to have better preservation of parts of the brain related to memory. An additional five years later, 31% of those who did not regularly consume fish contracted mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease. Of those who ate fish at least once a week, between three and eight per cent contracted the aforementioned medical conditions.

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According to The Daily Telegraph, consumption of grilled or baked fish increases the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, providing a greater amount of blood flow to the brain; therefore prompting a reduction in inflammation and internal gathering of plaque encountered in the lead-up to Alzheimer's disease. Fried fish does not reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease due to the low amount of Omega 3 it contains.

Dr. Cyrus Raji, who took leadership of the study, called it "the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk." Raji concluded that "people who consumed baked or [grilled] fish at least one time per week had better preservation of grey matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."

The Alzheimer's Society's research manager, Dr. Anne Corbett, stated: "This moderately sized study adds weight to existing evidence suggesting that eating fish reduces your risk of developing cognitive decline." However, she contested these findings, saying they "did not account for lifestyle factors such as other foods or exercise", which may have affected the overall outcome. Dr. Corbett advised consumers to "eat a healthy diet including fruit and vegetables along with taking regular exercise and giving up smoking" to reduce the risk of contracting dementia.

Meanwhile, Alzheimer's Research UK lead researcher, Dr. Simon Ridley, believed the study had not clarified "whether other underlying factors may have contributed to the lower risk in people who eat fish." There is "a clear need for more conclusive research into the effects of dietary fish on our cognitive health," according to Dr. Ridley.

The results of the study are to be presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Sources

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