According to the results of a cross-sectional study published in Neurology, increased fish consumption is linked to a lower risk of cerebrovascular disease (CVD).
Eating fish is the main source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and may contribute to a lower risk of age-related brain disease. However, the mechanisms behind its potential impact on subclinical brain damage prior to the onset of these diseases are unknown. Previous research on fish intake and brain vascular health has also been mixed.
The aim of the current study was to investigate the relationship between fish consumption and global CVD exposure based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers of the brain in a large population-based cohort of older adults.
To assess whether the consumption of fish is linked to CVD exposure, data were taken from the Three City Dijon study. Participants consisted of a cohort of 1,623 community residents aged 65 years or older in Dijon, France, who were recruited between 1999 and 2001 by MRI.
The average age of the participants was 72.3 years (standard deviation [SD], 4.1) years, 63% were women, 44.6% had secondary education, 79.7% participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity, 76.6% had high blood pressure, 55.9% hypercholesterolemia, 21.3% Cardiovascular disease and 7.8% diabetes.
The participants were stratified according to the consumption of no fish (n = 173), the consumption of fish once (n = 603), 2-3 times (n = 756) or ³ times (n = 91) per week. People who consumed more fish were more educated, had higher incomes, were more physically active, had a lower body mass index (BMI), and had better cognitive performance.
The study population had a mean white matter hyperintensity load of 2.2% (SD, 2.0%), 8.1% had cerebral infarction, and 16.6% had Grade 1, Grade 2 (77.3%), and Grade 3 (6.2%) perivascular space severity. Fish consumption was associated with lower white matter hyperintensities (P <0.001) and the likelihood of covert cerebral infarction (P = 0.03), but was not associated with enlarged perivascular spaces (P³, 18).
CVD exposure was significantly associated with fish consumption (P <.001). Compared with no fish consumption, consumption of fish 2-3 (b, -0.19; 95% CI, -0.37 to -0.01 units) or ³4 (b, -0.30; 95% CI, -0 , 57 to -0.03 units) per week was associated with decreased CVD exposure values.
The effect of fish consumption on CVD was modified by age (P = .04), the effect being stronger in 65-69 year olds (P = 0.003) and 70-74 years old (P = 0.006) than in those ³75 years old (P = .40).
Multivariate adjustments did not change these observed trends and no other food groups were significantly associated with CVD.
This study was limited by its cross-sectional design so that no causal relationships could be assessed.
“To date, few protective factors have been identified against the development of subclinical cerebrovascular damage that leads to stroke or dementia. If confirmed in prospective studies or clinical trials, the beneficial role of fish consumption in maintaining cerebrovascular health in the very early stages of brain aging can lead to relatively simple and inexpensive prevention strategies, ”the researchers concluded.
Thomas A, Crivello F, Mazoyer B, Debette S, Tzourio C, Samieri C. Fish intake and MRI exposure to cerebrovascular disease in older adults. Neurology. Published online November 3, 2021. doi: 10.1212 / WNL.0000000000012916