Eating fish can help reduce damage to smokers' arteries

January 9, 2003

Brussels, 08 Jan 2003

An Irish study has claimed that eating fish can help repair, to some extent, the artery damage caused by smoking which leads to heart attacks and strokes.

The study was carried out by David Bouchier-Hayes, Professor of surgery from Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. A group of 30 smokers and non-smokers were asked to participate in the study. The findings show that fish can help reduce the harm that smoking does to the heart's blood vessels, a condition which is known as endothelial dysfunction.

However, Professor Bouchier-Hayes strongly emphasises the point that taurine, an amino acid that exists in fish is not an antidote to smoking. According to the professor, 'We are not trying to find a therapeutic treatment for smoking because we believe the best therapy for smokers is to stop smoking.'

The research team measured the endothelial function by taking ultrasound scans. A tourniquet was then attached to the arm of the smokers and non-smokers. It was found that while non-smokers' blood vessels dilated, smokers' arteries remained unchanged.

The group of smokers and non-smokers were then given daily supplements of taurine. The research team discovered that when smokers took only 1.5 grams of taurine, there was no detectable difference between the behaviour in smokers' and the non-smokers' arteries.

The endothelial function is the first warning sign of the development of athersclerosis, which causes strokes and heart attacks. While the intake of taurine will not cure smokers, Professor Bouchier-Hayes sees how 'smokers provide a good clinical model for treatment of endothelial dysfunction.'

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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