Eating Lots of Fish Could Help Curb Risk of Depression

By Jlikes2Fish (Original digital photograph) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You have probably heard a lot about the merits of eating fish. However, a new study suggests that there are more benefits to consuming fish than just the omega-3s. Eating a lot of fish can help curb the risk of depression, at least in Europe, suggests a pool of evidence. Depression affects approximately 350 million people all around the world and it is on track to become the second leading cause of ill health by 2020.

The Study

Eating a lot of fish could curb the risk of depression and the results of the study were published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The association between a diet high in fish and mental health appears to be equally significant in women and men, the first analysis indicated.

Depression occurs in an estimated 350 million individuals all over the world and it is projected to be the second leading cause of ill health by the year 2020.

Many previous studies have reviewed the possible role of dietary factors in modifying a person’s depression risk, but the findings up until now have always proven inconsistent and inconclusive.

The researchers in this study pooled the information from relevant studies published between 2001 and 2014, in order to assess the strengths of the evidence on the link between eating fish and the risk of depression.

After combing databases, the team found 101 suitable articles, of which 16 were eligible for being included in the analysis. These 16 articles included 26 studies, involving 150,278 participants.

Ten of the studies were cohort studies, which involved monitoring a group of individual who don’t have the condition in question for a period of time to see who developed it. The remainder of those were cross-sectional: these look at the link between a condition and other variables of interest in a defined population at a single point in time or over a brief time period.

Ten of the studies had participants from Europe; 7 from North America and the rest came from Asia, South America and Oceania.

After pooling the information together, a significant link between those eating the most fish and a 17 percent reduction in depression risk was discovered, when comparing the information to those eating the least amount. This was found in both cohort and cross-sectional studies, but only for the European studies.

When the research team looked at gender in specifics, they found a slightly stronger association between high fish consumption and lowered depression risk in men. Among women, the association was a reduction of 16 percent.

Conclusion of the Study:

This was an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. However, there may be a plausible biological explanation for the link, suggested the researchers.
Study researchers concluded, “Higher fish consumption may be beneficial in the primary prevention of depression. Future studies are needed to further investigate whether this association varies according to the type of fish.”


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