Eating More Fish Lessens Symptoms in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Findings suggest an association between lower disease activity and a higher intake of fish.

Higher fish intake may be associated with lower disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), new findings suggest.

In a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, investigators sought to assess whether more frequent consumption of fish was associated with lower RA disease activity scores.

The investigators conducted a cross-sectional analysis using baseline data obtained from participants in the ESCAPE-RA cohort study.

A baseline food frequency questionnaire that assessed usual diet in the past year was used to determine the frequency of fish consumption among the participants. Disease activity scores (DAS28-CRP) were also evaluated.

Of the 176 participants in the study, the median DAS28-CRP was 3.5. The investigators adjusted for factors including age, sex, body mass index, marital status, depression, medication use, and fish oil consumption.

The results of the study showed that individuals who consumed fish twice per week or more had a significantly lower DAS28-CRP compared with individuals who only consumed fish once per month or not at all.

Each additional serving of fish per week resulted in a significant reduction of DAS28-CRP by 0.18%.

In an interview with Time, the study authors noted the clinical significance of the half-point reduction, saying that it is approximately one-third the amount of improvement reported in clinical trials for methotrexate.

“With that type of improvement, we would generally expect that a patient would feel noticeable better,” lead author Dr Sara Tedeshi told Time.

Overall, the findings suggest that a higher intake of fish may be associated with lower disease activity in patients with RA.

“If our findings can be replicated in other populations and over longer periods of time, we may be able to show one specific reason for people with RA to eat more fish,” Dr Tedeshi told Time.