Eating small fish whole can extend life expectancy, according to a Japanese study

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Eating small fish whole can extend life expectancy, according to a Japanese study. Credit: Chinatsu Kasahara

A new study has found evidence that intake of small fish, eaten whole, is linked to a reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cancer in Japanese women. The study, conducted by Dr. Chinatsu Kasahara, Associate Professor Takashi Tamura, and Kenji Wakai Professor at Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, highlights the potential life-extending benefits of regularly eating small fish. The findings were published in the news Public Health Nutrition.

Japanese people usually eat small fish, such as whitebait, capelin, Japanese smelt and small dried sardines. Importantly, it is common to consume small fish whole, including the head, bones and organs, which are rich in micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin A.

“Previous studies have shown the protective effect of fish intake on health outcomes, including mortality risks. However, few studies have specifically focused on the effect of small fish intake on health outcomes,” said lead researcher Dr. . Kasahara. “I was interested in this topic because since childhood I have a habit of eating small fish. I now give this food to my children.”

The research team examined the link between small fish intake and mortality risk among Japanese. The study included 80,802 participants (34,555 men and 46,247 women) aged 35 to 69 in Japan nationwide.

The frequency of participants’ small fish intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire at baseline. The researchers followed them for an average of nine years. During the follow-up period, 2,482 deaths were recorded among people participating in the study, of which approximately 60% (1,495 deaths) were cancer-related.

One of the most striking findings of the study was the significant reduction in all-cause and cancer mortality among women who habitually eat small fish. Women who ate small fish 1 to 3 times per month, 1 to 2 times per week, or 3 or more times per week had a 0.68, 0.72, and 0.69 times greater risk of all-cause mortality, respectively. and 0.72, 0.71 and 0.64 times the risk of cancer mortality, compared with those who rarely eat small fish.

After controlling for factors that could influence mortality risk, such as participants’ age, smoking and alcohol consumption habits, BMI, and intake of various nutrients and foods, the researchers found that women in the study who often ate small fish were less likely to to die. for whatever reason. These findings suggest that including small fish in their daily diet could be a simple but effective strategy to reduce the risk of mortality among women.

The risk of all-cause and cancer mortality in men showed a similar trend to that in women, although it was not statistically significant. The reasons for the lack of significance in men remain unclear, but the researchers say the limited number of male subjects or other factors not measured in the study, such as portion size of small fish, may also matter. According to the researchers, the difference in the type of cancer that causes cancer mortality between the sexes may be related to a sex-specific association.

While recognizing the need for additional research in other populations and a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved, Dr. Kasahara enthusiastic about the results. “Although our findings were only among Japanese, they should be important for other nationalities as well,” she said.

In fact, previous studies have highlighted affordable small fish as a potentially important source of nutrients, especially in developing countries suffering from severe nutrient deficiencies. This study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits of dietary practices, including eating small fish.

Like Dr. Kasahara explained: “Small fish are easy for everyone to eat, and they can be consumed whole, including the head, bones and organs. Nutrients and physiologically active substances unique to small fish can help maintain good health. The reverse The relationship between small fish intake and mortality risk in women underlines the importance of these nutrient-rich foods in people’s diets.”

“The habit of eating small fish is usually limited to several coastal or maritime countries, such as Japan,” says Associate Professor Tamura. “However, we suspect that small fish intake anywhere may be revealed as a way to extend life expectancy. Further evidence is needed to elucidate the potential role of small fish intake in mortality risk.”

More information:
Chinatsu Kasahara et al., Association between small fish consumption and all-cause mortality among Japanese: the Japan Multi-Institutional Collaborative Cohort Study, Public Health Nutrition (2024). DOI: 10.1017/S1368980024000831

Provided by Nagoya University


Quote: Eating small fish whole can extend life expectancy, according to Japanese study (2024, June 13), retrieved June 14, 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-06-small-fish -prolong-life-japanese.html

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