Eating fish rich in Omega3 fatty acids significantly cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, the painful joint disorder, demonstrates a new study.

Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with wear-and-tear which can trigger inflammation in the joints, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced mobility.

According to researchers, consumption of oily fish such as herring, mackerel or salmon once a week or four servings of lean fish such as cod, haddock or tinned tuna may slash the risk of developing the debilitating condition by half.

“This study is an additional argument to follow that recommendation and to make one of those servings fatty fish,” says study author Dr. Alicja Wolk, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Details of the study
The focus of the study was to assess whether fatty fish may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists from Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied 32,000 women born between 1914 and 1948.

For the purpose of the study, they conducted lifestyle surveys and collected information pertaining to their food habits in 1987 and again a decade later. During the study period 205 women developed rheumatoid arthritis.

Revelations of the study
The analysis revealed high intake of fatty fish is associated with lower rheumatoid arthritis risk. It was noted that women who regularly ate at least one serving of fatty fish each week for about 10 years halved their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to those who ate little or no fish.

The study also found that long-term consumption of any fish on a regular basis (once or more each week) reduced the threat of the painful condition by 29 per cent. The findings held true even after adjusting for lifestyle factors such as age, smoking habits and alcohol intake.

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK stated, “We’ve known for some time that there is good evidence that in people with active arthritis, taking fish oils can reduce the level of inflammation. What this study suggests is that by taking high levels of fish oils it would appear that it can prevent inflammation from starting in the joint.”

The study is published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

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