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Eating fish may not help Alzheimer's disease or dementia - study

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President Barack Obama on Oct 29 proclaimed November 2010 as the National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month as he did in 2009. In this month, we will publish a series of reports on Alzheimer's disease and its prevention.

A new case-control study suggests that eating fish or taking omega-3 fatty acids in moderation may not help reduce long term risk of dementia like Alzheimer's disease.

The study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed those who had high intake of fatty fish or fish did not reduce their risk of dementia compared with those who did not eat fish at all.

Devore E.E. and colleagues from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands conducted the study in hopes to clarify whether greater intake of fish and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may reduce the risk as previous studies are inconsistent in terms of the effect of fish and omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of dementia like Alzheimer's disease.

For the study, Devore et al. followed 5,395 men and women age 55 or older in the Rotterdam Study who were free of dementia and reported their dietary information at baseline. During the 10-year follow-up, 465 men and women were diagnosed with dementia and of them 365 were suffering Alzheimer's.

The researchers found both fatty fish and omega-3 PUFAs were not associated with dementia risk and the negative association was also found similar in the case of Alzheimer's disease.

The study suggests that eating fatty fish or taking omega-3 fatty acids supplements may not help stop the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease, a major form of dementia, is eventually fatal and has no cure and it affects an estimated 5 millions of Americans.

In the National Alzheimer's disease Disease Awareness Month, more reports will be published here to help readers understand the age-related neurodegenerative disorder and how to prevent it.

David Liu