The consumption of fresh fish can counteract asthma, a disease of the respiratory system, sometimes caused by allergies, an innovative study has revealed.
Prof. Andreas Lopata of the Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University (JCU), Australia, made this known in a research published on a website sciencedaily.com on March 19, 2019.
Lopata said: “Asthma incidence has nearly doubled in the past 30 years and about half of asthma patients do not get any benefit from the drugs available to treat it. So, there is a growing interest in non-drug treatment options.
“There is an increasing consumption of what is known as the n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) found in vegetable oils and a decline in consumption of n-3 PUFA, which is mainly found in marine oils and crudely, there has been a global move from fresh fish to fast food.”
Lopata, who is the lead author of the publication, further said: “We found that certain types of n-3 (from marine oils) were significantly associated with a decreased risk of having asthma or asthma-like symptoms by up to 62%, while high n-6 consumption (from vegetable oils) was associated with an increased risk by up to 67 per cent.”
According to him, this is more evidence of the suspected inflammatory role of n-6 in the development of asthma, and more evidence that n-3 gives significant protection.
“Even if you factor in contaminants such as mercury found in some fish populations, the benefits of fish and seafood (lobsters, prawns, crabs, shrimps, and squids) intake far more outweigh the potential risks,” Lopata said.
The researcher added that further work needed to be done on what effect specific types of n-3 would have and how their beneficial role could be optimised as well as how the negative effects of n-6 could be minimised.
At least 334 million people worldwide have asthma with prevalence ranging from 1% to 18%, and about a quarter of a million people die from it every year.
It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be responsible for the loss of 15 million disability-adjusted life years annually.
In Nigeria, asthma is second to pulmonary tuberculosis as a cause of childhood chronic respiratory disorder.
The prevalence of childhood asthma is not known with certainty in Nigeria. What is certain however is that the prevalence is increasing in Nigeria and worldwide.
In 2004 for instance, reported a prevalence of 7.6% among school-age children using International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire in Ibadan, a place where earlier studies reported much lower prevalence of 2.4–3.6%.