Older people who eat fish at least once a week may cut their risk of Alzheimer's by more than half, a study suggests. The study adds to the evidence that diet may affect a person's chances of developing the mind-robbing disease that affects 4 million Americans.
Researchers found that people 65 and older who had fish once a week had a 60 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's than those who never or rarely ate fish. The meals included tuna sandwiches, fishsticks and shellfish; the amounts eaten were not specified.
The researchers found an association between eating fish and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's even after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity and risk factors like heart disease. If the finding holds up, it could provide a simple way for people to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's, said Neil Buckholtz, chief of the dementia division at the National Institute on Aging.
Fish is rich in an omega-3 fatty acid (search) that is believed to be important for brain development, Morris said. Studies have shown that animals fed the fatty acids had better learning abilities and memory. Some participants in the latest study also saw a decreased risk of Alzheimer's from eating omega-3 fatty acids found in vegetables and nuts.