Eating Fish May Help Stave Off Dementia

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Eating at least one portion of fish per week may help to reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related illnesses. This was the conclusion reached following international research conducted at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). Ondine van de Rest, a researcher at Wageningen University, collaborated on the study.

Starting in 1997, the study monitored elderly people living in Chicago and the surrounding areas. The researchers recorded participants’ eating habits and other lifestyle factors. Upon death, the brains of 286 elderly were examined for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ondine van de Rest explains, ‘This is the first study in which it was possible to conduct research on the presence of markers of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the actual brains of test subjects. As such, it enabled us to objectively view the association with fish consumption.’

The researchers found fewer markers of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease amongst elderly people who consumed fish at least once a week than amongst those who consumed fish less than once a week. Strikingly, this association was only present amongst carriers of APOE ε4, the gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. However, given that this association was not consistently demonstrated in other studies, it is still too early to confirm that eating fish on a weekly basis has a positive role on people who are genetically prone to developing dementia.

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