That’s the conclusion from researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, as reported during the European League Against Rheumatism congress.

Here are the results from the Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis study.

First, the details.

  • Information on the consumption of oily fish during the 5 preceding years was collected in 1,899 patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Responses were compared with 2,145 randomly selected individuals without rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Participants could choose among 3 answers
    • 1 to 7 times weekly
    • 1 to 3 times monthly
    • Seldom or never

And, the results.

  • People who ate oily fish 1 to 7 times a week or 1 to 3 times a month had a 20% lower prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis compared with participants reporting less frequent consumption.
  • The protective effect of oily fish applied only to Rh factor-positive rheumatoid arthritis.
    • Rh factor is a protein substance in the red blood cells of most people, capable of inducing immune reactions and antibody production.
  • Consumption of fish oil supplements had no effect on the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

The bottom line?
“Our study shows that if you consume oily fish at least one time per month, it has a protective effect,” said Dr. Annmarie Wesley. “We need to do more studies in this area, because we don’t know the biological mechanisms behind these findings.”

More on her thoughts of the significance of these findings can be found in the MedPage article.

8/10/08 19:56 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.