Journal Article

Fish Intake, Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Mortality in a Cohort of Postmenopausal Women

Aaron R. Folsom and Zewditu Demissie

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 160, issue 10, pages 1005-1010
Published in print November 2004 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online November 2004 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Fish Intake, Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Mortality in a Cohort of Postmenopausal Women

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Intake of fish or omega-3 fatty acids may decrease risk of total and coronary heart disease death, but evidence from low-risk populations is less convincing. The authors assessed intake by using a food frequency questionnaire at baseline in a cohort of Iowa women aged 55–69 years. Among women initially free of heart disease and cancer (4,653 deaths over 442,965 person-years), there was an inverse age- and energy-adjusted association between total mortality and fish intake, with a relative risk of 0.82 (95% confidence interval: 0.74, 0.91) for the highest versus lowest quintile. Age- and energy-adjusted associations also were inverse (p for trend < 0.05), although not entirely monotonic, for cardiovascular, coronary heart disease, and cancer mortality. Adjustment for multiple other risk factors attenuated all associations to statistically nonsignificant levels. Estimated marine omega-3 fatty acid intake also was not associated with total or cause-specific mortality. In comparison, plant-derived α-linolenic acid was inversely associated with mortality after multivariable adjustment. Intake of neither fish nor marine omega-3 fatty acids was associated with breast cancer incidence. These findings do not argue against recommending fish as part of a healthy diet, as other evidence suggests benefit. Nevertheless, the authors of this 1986–2000 study could not verify that fish and marine omega-3 fatty acid intake had independent health benefits in these postmenopausal women.

Keywords: breast neoplasms; coronary disease; fatty acids, omega-3; fishes; mortality; prospective studies; Abbreviations: ICD-9, International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision; ICD-10, International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision.

Journal Article.  4124 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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