A new Swedish study links the omega-3s found in fish to a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women. Though Swedish, the fish used in the study were not the red, gummy kind that stick to your teeth through the entire duration of a full length feature film. The study was published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
"This study is the first to attribute the protective effect of fish against rheumatoid arthritis to its content of omega-3 fatty acids," Daniela Di Giuseppe, a doctoral student at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and lead author of the study, told Reuters.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm followed over 32,000 women born between 1914 and 1948 who were part of the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Information about fish consumption was gathered from diet questionnaires sent to women in 1987 and 1997. National registries were used to identify new diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis between 2003 and 2010.
Long-term consumption of any fish at least once per week, compared to less than one weekly serving, was tied to a 29 percent lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis. However, that finding could have been due to chance, the researchers found. Women who reported getting more than 0.21 grams of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish per day both in 1987 and 1997 had a 52 percent decreased risk of developing the disease, compared to those who ate the least.
You can max out your seafood intake, however. The researchers found a threshold effect, suggesting more omega-3s may not always be better. Below 0.35 grams per day, the risk of rheumatoid arthritis increased, but above it, the benefits seemed to taper off.
For people hoping to ward of rheumatoid arthritis, curried fish might be the way to go. Research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research last year suggested 1,000 mg of curcumin (the curry-flavored stuff derived from the root turmeric) may ease arthritis symptoms.