Eating fried fish may boost stroke risk

Posted on Dec 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

This may not be news, but a new study once again demonstrated that eating fried fish may boost risk of stroke – a highly lethal cerebrovascular event that kills about 134,000 people each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study in the December 22, 2010, online issue of Neurology® showed African-Americans and people in the stroke belt covering states including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana ate more fried fish than Caucasians and people living in the rest of the country.

Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish particularly fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna have been associated with lower risk of stroke.

Research has shown frying as a thermal process can turn the natural fatty acids into artificial trans fat, which according to Harvard nutritionists and epidemiologists is responsible at least partially for 100,000 deaths each year in the United States.

Fadi Nahab of Emory University in Atlanta and colleagues examined data from 21,675 people with an average age of 65 years who participated in the Reasons for geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study.

Among the participants, 21 percent came from the coastal plain region of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, 34 percent from the rest of the stroke belt and 44 percent from the other 40 contiguous states.

Subjects were subject to phone interviews and in-home physical examination. A questionnaire was filled out to tell the researchers how often they ate fried fish and other seafood including oysters, shellfish, tuna, and other types of fish not fried.

Compared with those in the rest of the country, those in the stroke buckle were 11 percent less likely to eat fish, particularly fatty fish at least twice per week, as recommended by the American Heart Association. Those in the rest of the stroke belt were 17 percent less likely to eat the recommended amount of fish.

African-Americans were 3.5 times more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish than the whites. And African-Americans ate an average of 0.96 servings of fried fish per week compared to 0.47 servings for Caucasians.

Compared with those in the rest of the country, men and women in the stroke belt were 30 percent more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish and those in the stroke buckle were 17 percent more likely to eat 2 or more servings per week.

D. Mozaffarian and colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health reported in the Jan 24, 2005 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine that intake of fried fish or fish sandwiches is associated with higher risk of ischemic stroke.

The researchers followed 4775 adults aged 65 or older who were free of cerebrovascular disease at baseline in 1989 to 1990.

During the 12-year follow-up, those who consumed 1 to 4 servings of fish per week were 27 percent less likely to have ischemic stroke and those ate 5 or more servings per week were 30 percent less likely compared with those eating less than once a month.

On the other hand, those eating more than once a week of fried fish or fish sandwiches were 44 percent more likely to suffer ischemic stroke compared those who consumed less than once a month.

Fish consumption was not associated with hemorrhagic stroke.

Both studies are not trials, which means that a causal relationship between eating fried fish and increased risk of stroke has not been established.

By David Liu