Fish consumption and risk of major chronic disease in men

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Dec;88(6):1618-25. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2007.25816.


Background: Although fish consumption may reduce specific disease endpoints, such as sudden cardiac death and prostate cancer, the effects of major chronic disease on total burden, reflecting sums of effects on a variety of endpoints and risk pathways, are not well established. Higher n-6 fatty acid consumption has also been hypothesized to reduce the health benefits of n-3 fatty acids in fish.

Objective: The aim was to study the associations of fish and n-3 fatty acid consumption with risk of total major chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, cancer, and death) and to determine whether a high n-6 intake modifies the associations.

Design: Lifestyle and other risk factors were assessed every 2 y and diet every 4 y in 40,230 US male health professionals aged 40-75 y and free of major chronic disease at baseline in 1986. During 18 y of follow-up, 9715 major chronic disease events occurred, including 3639 cardiovascular disease events, 4690 cancers, and 1386 deaths from other causes.

Results: After multivariable adjustment, neither fish nor dietary n-3 fatty acid consumption was significantly associated with risk of total major chronic disease. Compared with fish consumption of <1 serving/mo, consumption of 1 serving/wk and of 2-4 servings/wk was associated with a lower risk of total cardiovascular disease of approximately 15%. No significant associations were seen with cancer risk. Higher or lower n-6 fatty acid intake did not significantly modify the results (P for interaction > 0.10).

Conclusions: Modest fish consumption was associated with a lower risk of total cardiovascular disease, consistent with cardiac mortality benefits but not with total cancer or overall major chronic disease; n-6 fatty acid consumption did not influence these relations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / adverse effects
  • Fishes
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6