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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For adults with diabetes, eating fish twice a week may help prevent kidney disease -- one of the most serious complications of diabetes, according to British researchers.
Dr. Amanda Adler from Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge and associates studied the diets of more than 22,000 middle-aged and older men and women, 517 of whom had diabetes, primarily type 2 disease.
They found that people with diabetes who reported eating fish more than once per week were considerably less likely to have protein in the urine - an early sign of kidney disease.
The condition, known medically as macroalbuminuria, "can herald worse kidney damage and increase the risk even for heart attacks," Adler told Reuters Health.
A little more than 8 percent of those with diabetes had macroalbuminuria versus less than 1 percent of those without diabetes. And 18 percent of diabetics who did not eat fish regularly (less than once per week) had macroalbuminuria compared with just 4 percent of diabetics who ate fish more than once per week.
"This suggests, then, that eating fish may prevent this early sign of kidney problems, which patients with diabetes are more likely to develop," Adler said.
The study appears in the November issue of American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation.
Lead investigator Chee-Tin Christine Lee told Reuters Health: "It is possible that fish oil improves blood lipid profiles and decreases the risk of kidney disease. It could be other components of fish, such as protein or micronutrients, are protective against diabetic kidney disease. However, it is also possible that people who eat fish frequently have other lifestyle factors, which we could not account for."
The study could not answer whether one kind of fish was better than another. "Future studies may be able to test this question," Adler said.
SOURCE: American Journal of Kidney Diseases, November 2008.