Intakes of long-chain omega-3 (n-3) PUFAs and fish in relation to incidence of asthma among American young adults: the CARDIA study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan;97(1):173-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.041145. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


Background: Although long-chain ω-3 (n-3) PUFAs (LCω3PUFAs) have been linked to the prevention of some inflammatory disorders, little is known about the association between these fatty acids and incidence of asthma.

Objective: The objective was to prospectively investigate the association between LCω3PUFAs and fish intake and incidence of asthma among American young adults.

Design: A 20-y follow-up longitudinal analysis was conducted in a biracial cohort of 4162 Americans, aged 18-30 y, with a history of asthma at baseline in 1985. Diet was assessed by a validated interviewer-administered quantitative food-frequency questionnaire at the examinations in 1985, 1992, and 2005. Incident self-reported asthma was defined as having a physician diagnosis of asthma and/or the use of asthma medications between 1985 and 2005.

Results: During the 20-y follow-up, 446 incident cases of asthma were identified. LCω3PUFA intake was significantly inversely associated with incidence of asthma after adjustment for sociodemographic, major lifestyle, and dietary confounders. The multivariable-adjusted HR for the highest quintile of LCω3PUFA intake as compared with the lowest quintile was 0.46 (95% CI: 0.33, 0.64; P-trend < 0.01). However, a higher frequency of nonfried fish consumption was not significantly associated with the risk of asthma. DHA showed a greater inverse association than did EPA. The association between LCω3PUFAs and incident asthma was not appreciably modified by sex, race, BMI, smoking status, or atopic status.

Conclusion: This study showed that intakes of LCω3PUFAs are inversely longitudinally associated with the incidence of asthma in American young adults.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Animals
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diet
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3