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Am J Prev Med. 2005 Nov;29(4):347-52.

A quantitative analysis of fish consumption and stroke risk.

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Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Although a rich source of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that may confer multiple health benefits, some fish contain methyl mercury (MeHg), which may harm the developing fetus. U.S. government recommendations for women of childbearing age are to modify consumption of high-MeHg fish to reduce MeHg exposure, while recommendations encourage fish consumption among the general population because of the nutritional benefits. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis convened an expert panel (see acknowledgements) to quantify the net impact of resulting hypothetical changes in fish consumption across the population. This paper estimates the impact of fish consumption on stroke risk. Other papers quantify coronary heart disease mortality risk and the impacts of both prenatal MeHg exposure and maternal intake of n-3 PUFAs on cognitive development. This analysis identified articles in a recent qualitative literature review that are appropriate for the development of a dose-response relationship between fish consumption and stroke risk. Studies had to satisfy quality criteria, quantify fish intake, and report the precision of the relative risk estimates. The analysis combined the relative risk results, weighting each proportionately to its precision. Six studies were identified as appropriate for inclusion in this analysis, including five prospective cohort studies and one case-control study (total of 24 exposure groups). Our analysis indicates that any fish consumption confers substantial relative risk reduction compared to no fish consumption (12% for the linear model), with the possibility that additional consumption confers incremental benefits (central estimate of 2.0% per serving per week).

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