Background: Epidemiologic data on the possible benefit of eating fish to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease have been inconsistent. We used data from the Chicago Western Electric Study to examine the relation between base-line fish consumption and the 30-year risk of death from coronary heart disease.
Methods: The study participants were 1822 men who were 40 to 55 years old and free of cardiovascular disease at base line. Fish consumption, as determined from a detailed dietary history, was stratified (0, 1 to 17, 18 to 34, and > or = 35 g per day). Mortality from coronary heart disease, ascertained from death certificates, was classified as death from myocardial infarction (sudden or nonsudden) or death from other coronary causes.
Results: During 47,153 person-years of follow-up, there were 430 deaths from coronary heart disease; 293 were due to myocardial infarctions (196 were sudden, 94 were nonsudden, and 3 were not classifiable). Cox proportional-hazards regression showed that for men who consumed 35 g or more of fish daily as compared with those who consumed none, the relative risks of death from coronary heart disease and from sudden or nonsudden myocardial infarction were 0.62 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.40 to 0.94) and 0.56 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.33 to 0.93), respectively, with a graded relation between the relative risks and the strata of fish consumption (P for trend = 0.04 and 0.02, respectively). These findings were accounted for by the relation of fish consumption to nonsudden death from myocardial infarction (relative risk, 0.33; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.91; P for trend= 0.007).
Conclusions: These data show an inverse association between fish consumption and death from coronary heart disease, especially nonsudden death from myocardial infarction.