Consuming more fish could reduce symptoms of arthritis, study finds

A new study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School shows that increased intake of fish reduces the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The study has found reduced levels of arthritis in people who consumed fish twice or more than twice a week, compared with people who never consumed fish or consumed it less than once in a month. The activity levels of the disease were measured in the patients by considering the number of swollen and tender joints along with other assessments.

The study included 176 people with rheumatoid arthritis. To determine the fish consumption frequency, the participants filled out a diet frequency questionnaire that assessed their regular diet over the past year.  A cross-sectional analysis of the data revealed the average DAS28-CRP (Disease Activity Score for Rheumatoid Arthritis) was 3.5. When adjusting other factors, it was found that DAS28-CRP was significantly less in individuals who ate fish twice or more in a week than individuals who never ate fish or ate less than once in a month.

"If our finding holds up in other studies, it suggests that fish consumption may lower inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis disease activity," said Lead author Dr Sara Tedeschi, of the division of rheumatology, immunology and allergy at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Fish consumption has been noted to have many beneficial health effects, and our findings may give patients with rheumatoid arthritis a strong reason to increase fish consumption."

The study also had a graded association that showed increased fish servings were connected with incremental reduction in the disease activity levels. For every additional fish serving per week, the DAS28-CRP was significantly lowered by 0.18.

Rheumatoid arthritis characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness in the joints, and fatigue is a debilitating and chronic condition that can significantly affect the quality of life of individuals. The study reveals that a simple yet beneficial change in lifestyle, such as increasing fish consumption, could have a bigger impact on managing the disease condition.

Dr Benjamin Ellis, rheumatologist and Arthritis Research UK spokesperson, commented:

"It's important to stress that eating fish does not replace medical treatments. However, this study provides evidence that for some, combining it with their treatment plan could improve their pain and stiffness."

The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research on June 22.



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