Long-term consumption of dietary long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women, claim researchers.
The Swedish study analysed data on the diet of 32,232 women aged 54 to 89 years from between 1987 and 1997. The information was collected using a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire. Some 205 of the women were identified as newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis cases during the follow-up period.
An intake of dietary long-chain n-3 PUFAs of more than 0.21g/day was associated with a 35% decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis compared with a lower intake (<0.21g/day). Long-term intake consistently higher than 0.21g/day was associated with a 52% decreased risk compared with a lower intake (<0.21g/day). Consistent long-term use of fish ≥1 serving per week compared with <1 was associated with a 29% decrease in risk of developing rheumatiod arthritis.
What this means for GPs
The researchers note that ‘the study indicates a potentially important role for dietary long-chain n-3 PUFAs in the aetiology of rheumatoid arthritis’ and that ‘adherence to existing dietary guidelines regarding fish consumption may also be beneficial in terms of rheumatoid arthritis risk’.