(NaturalNews) Fish has long been regarded as a healthful food, in particular for its high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. Two recent studies have affirmed its health benefits in two different ways. First, a study on over 2,000 elderly persons in Norway found that eating fish and fish products improved cognitive function, while an American study on over 20,000 men found that eating fish might improve prostate cancer survival.
Improved Cognitive Performance
The Norwegian study, part of the Hordaland Health Study, looked at the link between eating different amounts of fish and fish products and cognitive performance. 2,031 persons aged 70 to 74 were asked to complete a series of six cognitive tests. They also filled up questionnaires which collated information on the type and amount of fish which they consumed. The foods included fatty fish, lean fish, processed fish, fish sandwich, as well as fish or cod liver oil. The data were then analyzed to try to uncover any association between eating such foods and cognitive function.
The findings were quite straightforward – it was found that persons who ate fish scored markedly better on all of the cognitive tests. And this was after non-nutrition factors which had been proven to affect cognitive function, for example education levels, had been accounted for. On top of that, it was found that the more of such foods consumed, the better the test results.
Another significant finding was the difference in impact of the type of fish consumed. Generally, the beneficial effects were more significant for non-processed lean fish as well as fatty fish.
Improved Survival from Prostate Cancer
In another study, jointly conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as Columbia University in New York, it was found that the consumption of fish might boost prostate cancer survival.
For this study, the research team had conducted a prospective cohort study on 20,167 men who had participated in the Physician's Health Study. None of the men had cancer in 1983, and during the study's follow-up period, 2,161 of them were diagnosed with prostate cancer, with 230 of those dying from the disease.
It is worthwhile noting that previously conducted epidemiological studies had not been conclusive on whether eating fish and seafood omega 3 fatty acids played a part in preventing or slowing the progression of prostate cancer. This study, too, found that consumption of fish did not prevent the development of prostate cancer.
However, the study revealed that, among the men who got prostate cancer, those who ate fish five or more times each week had a 48% lower risk of succumbing to the disease, as compared to those who ate fish less than once each week. For seafood omega 3 fatty acids, the link was similar – those who consumed it regularly had a 36% lower risk.
It was also noted that the lowered risks became more pronounced when the analyses were restricted to cancer cases which were clinically detected.
These studies provide additional insight into the health benefits of fish. However, it is important to realize that most fish today are highly contaminated with mercury and other pollutants which have stained our waters. The possibly of some adverse health effects of farm-raised fish has also been suggested. Thus, whether we wish to consume fish supplements or fish in its whole form, it is a good idea to look for a high quality and uncontaminated, or at least minimally contaminated, source.