To investigate the association between fish consumption and early atherosclerosis, we analyzed the relationship between fish consumption and average intima-media thickness (AveIMT) by carotid ultrasound in middle-aged Japanese men.

Participants were 250 randomly selected, community-based Japanese men aged 40 to 49 years without a prior history of cardiovascular disease. AveIMT was calculated from the mean of 1-cm lengths of both the right and the left carotid arteries at 8 locations. A lifestyle survey was carried out using a self-administered questionnaire including the frequency of fish intake. There were 147 men in the fewer than 4 times per week fish consumption group and 103 men in the 4 or more times per week group.

The mean AveIMT was significantly higher in the low fish consumption group than in the high fish consumption group (0.623+/-0.068 vs 0.605+/-0.065 mm, P=.03). After adjustment for age, waist circumference, pack-years of smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, and lipid-lowering medications, the significant difference in the AveIMT between the 2 groups remained. However, after further adjustment for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein in the model, the significant difference disappeared.

Fish consumption may be protective against early atherosclerosis in middle-aged men, probably through its beneficial effects on inflammation.