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Eating Tuna Lowers Risk Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Eating one portion of fatty fish, or four portions of lean fish, every week may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Disease.

In the study, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden sent a questionnaire to all women between 1987 and 1990 who participated in The Swedish Mammography Cohort Study and who were born between 1914 and 1948. The questionnaire called for information on their diet, height, weight, parity and education level. Then in 1997, a follow-up questionnaire was sent to 56,030 women requesting the same information in addition to information on smoking history, physical activity and use of dietary supplements and aspirin. The woman also completed a food frequency questionnaires regarding how often they ate a selection of 67 foods in 1987, and 96 foods in 1997. The selection included a variety of lean and fatty fish.

Of these women, 32,000 had their health monitored between 2003 and 2010 and results showed 205 were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed that across the study group, the women with the highest consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) had four times high intake than those with the lowest intake. Further, of the women who developed arthritis, 27% had a dietary omega-PUFAs intake of less than .21 grams per day. The women in the study who consumed over .21 grams per day, which is equivalent to a minimum of one serving of fatty fish, or four servings of lean fish, in both 1987 and 1997 had a 52% lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, findings showed that eating more than one serving of all types of fish every week for a minimum of 10 years was linked to a 29% reduced risk of arthritis, compared to eating less that one portion a week. These results coincide with guidelines from the American Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which suggests that consuming seafood twice per week to obtain an average daily intake of 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Other studies have shown that women who consume an increased number of omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in fish like salmon and tuna are less likely to develop breast cancer as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the fingers, arms, legs and wrists. Around 50 million adults in the United States suffer from some form of arthritis and it's estimated that by 2030, 67 million Americans will have the disease.