(HealthDay News) — Eating fish at least twice a week may significantly reduce the pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published online June 21 in Arthritis Care & Research.
Sara Tedeschi, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and colleagues conducted a secondary study from data collected from a trial investigating risk factors for heart disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients. The authors analyzed results of a food frequency questionnaire that assessed patients’ diet over the past year. Consumption of fish was counted if it was cooked — broiled, steamed, or baked — or raw, including sashimi and sushi. Fried fish, shellfish, and fish in mixed dishes, such as stir-fries, were not included. Frequency of consumption was categorized as: never or less than once a month; once a month to less than once a week; once a week; and two or more times a week.
The researchers found that 19.9 percent of participants ate fish less than once a month or never, while 17.6 percent consumed fish more than twice a week. The most frequent fish eaters reported less pain and swelling compared to those who ate fish less often than once a month.
“If our finding holds up in other studies, it suggests that fish consumption may lower inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis disease activity,” Tedeschi said in a university news release. “Fish consumption has been noted to have many beneficial health effects, and our findings may give patients with rheumatoid arthritis a strong reason to increase fish consumption.”