Regular consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration in women, according to a report.
An estimated 9 million U.S. adults ages 40 and older show signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the authors wrote in the report, which is available on the website of Archives of Ophthalmology and will appear in the June print issue.
An additional 7.3 million have early AMD, which does not include significant vision loss but increases the risk of progression to advanced AMD.
Using the Womens Health Study, William G. Christen, ScD., of Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues collected data on 38,022 women who had not been diagnosed with AMD.
The researchers obtained information on womens eating habits via questionnaire at the beginning of the study. The results included information on intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), as well as arachidonic acid and linoleic acid. During 10 years of follow-up, additional questionnaires tracked the womens eye health, with specific focus on diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration.
Over the course of follow-up, 235 cases of age-related macular degeneration were reported. In analyses that adjusted for age and treatment assignment, women who consumed the most DHA compared with women who consumed the lowest amount had a 38% lower risk of developing AMD. Similar results were observed for higher intake of EPA and for higher consumption of both types of acid together.
Results for fish intake showed that consumption of one or more servings of fish per week, when compared to less than one per month, was associated with a 42% lower risk of AMD.
For omega-6 fatty acids, higher intake of linoleic acid but not arachidonic acid was associated with an increased risk of AMD. However, this association was not significant after adjustment for other risk factors and fats.
In summary, the authors wrote, these prospective data from a large population of women with no prior diagnosis of AMD indicate that regular consumption of DHA and EPA and fish significantly reduced the risk of incident AMD.