MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA. Researchers at the University of Minnesota report that smokers who eat fish regularly are much less likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. They believe the protective effect is due to the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content of fish and fish oils. Other studies have shown that fish oils have anti-inflammatory properties and benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. The study included 8960 people, 55 per cent of which were former smokers and 45 per cent current smokers. The researchers found that present or former smokers who ate four servings of fish per week had about half the risk of developing chronic bronchitis as did smokers who only ate 0.5 serving or less per week. Heavy fish eaters had only one third the risk of getting emphysema as did smokers who ate little fish. Eating four servings of fish per week corresponds to a daily intake of about 480 mg of fish oils (EPA and DHA). The researchers conclude that a high dietary intake of fish oils (n-3 fatty acids) may protect cigarette smokers against chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
Shahar, Eyal, et al. Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 331, No. 4, July 28, 1994, pp. 228- 33