Fish intake, marine omega-3 fatty acids, & mortality in a cohort of postmenopausal women.

January 1, 2004 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Fish intake, marine omega-3 fatty acids, & mortality in a cohort of postmenopausal women.

Year: 2004
Authors: A R Folsom, Z Demissie.
Publication Name: Am J Epidemiol.
Publication Details: Volume 160; Page 1005.


Evidence from both clinical trials and observational studies indicates that greater intake of fish, or of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or plant sources, may decrease risk of coronary heart disease incidence and mortality and sudden death in particular. In observational studies, the inverse association of fish or marine omega-3 intake with total coronary heart disease mortality appears to be stronger in populations at high risk of coronary heart disease. Fewer studies exist for women than men. In this study, the relationship between fish or marine omega-3 fatty acid intake and major causes of death was assessed in a cohort of women with generally low coronary heart disease mortality. Dietary intake was assessed by using a food frequency questionnaire at baseline in a cohort of Iowa women aged 55–69 years over the period 1986-2000. Among women initially free of heart disease and cancer (4,653 deaths over 442,965 person-years), there was an inverse age- and energy-adjusted association between total mortality and fish intake, with a relative risk of 0.82 for the highest versus lowest quintile. In this prospective study of older Iowa women, greater fish intake was associated with modestly reduced mortality from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cancer. However, the association was not independent of other self-reported risk factors. Intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids showed no association with total or cause-specific mortality. No associations between fish or omega-3 fatty acids and mortality among diabetic women or with breast cancer incidence were noted. In comparison, ALA was inversely associated with mortality after multivariable adjustment. Few previous studies of fish intake and mortality have focused on women and the fish intake pattern for Iowa women may not have been optimal to test the hypothesis. The median fish intake of one serving per week was similar to many studies showing potential benefit. Nevertheless, the range of fish intake may have been too narrow to precisely assess the relative risk or too high in the reference group to estimate the most relevant relative risk (i.e., some fish intake vs. none). In conclusion, in this sample of postmenopausal women, greater fish intake was weakly, but not independently associated with a reduced rate of death. There was also no independent association of fish intake with coronary heart disease or stroke mortality. Although the findings do not suggest against recommending fish as part of a healthy diet, it does not verify that fish and marine omega-3 fatty acid intake has independent health benefits in these postmenopausal women.

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