Purpose: Epidemiological evidence on the association between fish consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes is heterogeneous across geographical regions. Differences related to fish consumption pattern could possibly help explain the discrepancy between the findings. We therefore aimed to investigate the association between fish consumption (total, fried, specific fish items) and type 2 diabetes incidence, taking exposure to contaminants present in fish (polychlorinated biphenyls and methyl mercury) into consideration.
Methods: The population-based Cohort of Swedish Men, including 35,583 men aged 45-79 years, was followed from 1998 to 2012. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) using Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: During 15 years of follow-up, 3624 incident cases were identified. Total fish consumption (≥4 servings/week vs. <1 serving/week) was not associated with type 2 diabetes in multivariable-adjusted analysis (HR 1.00; 95 % CI 0.85-1.18); however, a statistically non-significant inverse association was observed after adjustment for dietary contaminant exposures (HR 0.79; 95 % CI 0.60-1.04). Fried fish (≥6 servings/month vs. ≤1 servings/month) and shellfish consumption (≥1 serving/week vs. never/seldom) were associated with HRs of 1.14 (95 % CI 1.03-1.31) and 1.21 (95 % CI 1.07-1.36), respectively.
Conclusions: We observed no overall association between total fish consumption and type 2 diabetes. The results indicated that dietary contaminants in fish may influence the relationship. Fried fish and shellfish consumption were associated with higher type 2 diabetes incidence. These findings suggest that more specific advice on fish species sub-types (varying in contamination) and preparation methods may be warranted.
Keywords: Cohort study; Fish; Fried foods; Methyl mercury; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Type 2 diabetes.