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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Eating Fish Cuts Risk of Dementia

Seafood Protects Brain Via Fatty Acids
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Oct. 24, 2002 -- It's another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids: Eating fish and seafood cuts the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a large study shows.

A team of French researchers has investigated the connection between fish (with its polyunsaturated fatty acids) and meat (rich in saturated fatty acids) and dementia.

Their data come from a large study on aging of more than 1,600 people age 68 and over -- all without signs of dementia and living in their homes in southwestern France. The amount of meat, fish, or seafood they ate was recorded. Researchers tracked their health for up to seven years afterward.

Those who ate fish or seafood at least once a week had a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia during the seven-year study period. Their education level seemed to slightly reduce the risk, too, suggesting that this "protective" effect was partly explained by higher education of people who regularly ate fish, says Pascale Barberger-Gateau, senior lecturer at Universite Victor Segalen in Bordeaux, France, in a news release.

Meat consumption had no impact on dementia risk, the report says.

The study appears in the Oct. 26 issue of the British Medical Journal.

The fatty acids in fish oils provide protection for arteries, which could improve blood flow to the brain. In addition, the fatty acids may reduce inflammation in the brain. They may also have a specific role in brain development and regeneration of nerve cells, the authors suggest. -->

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