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HEALTH REPORT - Fish and a Healthy Heart

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Researchers are reporting new studies showing that eating oily fish reduces the chance of dying from a heart attack. Oily fish have large amounts of a substance called omega-three fatty acid. These fish include herring, mackerel and salmon.

Graphic Image
Graphic Image

One study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers in Boston, Massachusetts studied about twenty-two-thousand male doctors. The doctors took part in the Physicians Health Study in nineteen-eighty-two. All were free of heart disease. Fifteen-thousand of the doctors provided the researchers with small amounts of their blood.

Ninety-four of the men who had given blood died suddenly during the next seventeen years. The researchers measured the amount of omega-three fatty acids in their blood. They also measured the fatty acids in blood from one-hundred-eighty surviving members of the study. The researchers found that the men who died had lower amounts of the fatty acids in their blood. The men with the highest levels of fatty acids had an eighty percent lower risk of sudden death than the men with the lowest levels.

A second study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Another group of researchers in Boston studied eighty-five-thousand female nurses. The women were part of the Nurses Health Study that began in nineteen-seventy-six. The researchers spoke to the women five times in fourteen years to find out how much fish they ate. They found that the women who ate the most fish were least likely to suffer a heart attack or die of heart problems. Women who ate fish once a week had a thirty percent lower chance of heart attack or sudden death than those who never ate fish.

A third study appeared in Circulation, published by the American Heart Association. Researchers in Italy studied more than eleven-thousand people who had suffered heart attacks. Half the group took a fish oil pill every day. The others took an inactive pill. The people who took the fish oil pills had a forty-two percent lower rate of sudden death from heart problems. The researchers said their findings must be confirmed by other studies before they would tell people to take fish oil in pills. But all the researchers said that eating oily fish two times a week can protect against heart disease.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.

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