According to an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, consumption of fatty fish may help reduce the risk of developing renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

The kidneys are each filled with tiny tubules that clean and filter the blood-the process that removes waste and makes urine. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a malignancy involving these tubules of the kidney.

Results from previous epidemiological studies have not consistently shown an association between the consumption of fatty fish and risks of various cancers. To date, no known studies involving fatty fish consumption and associations with RCC exist.

Researchers from Sweden recently conducted a clinical study evaluating fish consumption and the risk of developing RCC among women. This study included over 61,000 women aged 40 to 76 years who had not been diagnosed with cancer when the study began (between 1987 and 1990). The women filled out food frequency questionnaires and were followed for approximately 15 years. In this study fatty fish included salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel while lean fishes included cod, tuna, fresh water fishes, and other seafood such as shrimp, lobster, and crayfish.

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  • Women eating fatty fish at least once per week for a prolonged period of time had a 74% reduction of risk of developing RCC compared to women who did not eat fish.
  • Women eating lean fish did not experience a risk reduction of RCC development.
  • Women eating fatty fish at least once per week according to the initial food questionnaire had a 44% reduced risk compared to women who did not eat fish.

The researchers concluded that consumption of fatty fish at least once per week, for prolonged periods of time, appears to significantly reduce the risk of developing RCC among women. Future studies are necessary to determine if fish oil supplementation or omega-3 supplements may provide the same protective benefits.

Reference: Wolk A, Larsson SL, Johansson J-E, et al. Long-term fatty fish consumption and renal cell carcinoma incidence in women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2006;296:1371-1376.

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