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Eating fish may explain very low levels of heart disease in Japan
Date:7/28/2008

PITTSBURGH, July 28 Consuming large quantities of fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids may explain low levels of heart disease in Japan, according to a study led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health slated for the Aug. 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and available online at 5 p.m. ET, today. The study also found that third- and fourth-generation Japanese Americans had similar or even higher levels of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries a major risk factor for heart disease, compared to white Americans.

The very low rate of heart disease in Japan among developed countries has been puzzling. Death rates from coronary heart disease in Japan have been less than half of that in the U.S. This holds true even among Japanese men born after World War II who adopted a Western lifestyle since childhood, and despite the fact that among these same men, risk factors for coronary heart disease (serum levels of total cholesterol, blood pressure and rates of type 2 diabetes) are very similar among men in the U.S. Additionally, the rate of cigarette smoking, another major risk factor, has been infamously high in Japan.

The study was conducted at two universities and one research institute in the U.S. and Japan to compare serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids and atherosclerosis among Japanese, white American and Japanese American men. Based on data from 868 men between the ages of 40 and 49, Japanese men had the lowest levels of atherosclerosis and two times higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than white Americans or Japanese Americans.

The differences in the levels of atherosclerosis between Japanese and white Americans remained after adjusting for other risk factors serum cholesterol, blood pressure, cigarette smoking, body mass index and diabetes.

"Our study suggests that very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have strong properties that may help prevent t
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Contact: Clare Collins
CollCX@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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