Eating Fish for Good Health Challenged By Scientists

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Eating fish and health
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Scientists are now questioning the health benefits of eating fish. Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, in conjunction with University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre and author Farley Mowat, teamed up to scrutinize the effect of eating fish for good health, and the impact on our fragile ecosystems. The scientists also suggest that eating fish might not benefit just everyone. Perhaps the health claims of fish oil consumption are a bit inflated.

According to Dr. David J. A. Jenkins, a University of Toronto professor and practicing physician at St. Michael’s, “For years, international agencies concerned with health and nutrition have promoted seafood consumption. Our concern is that fish stocks are under extreme pressure globally and that studies are still urgently required to define precisely who will benefit from fish oil.”

Increasing demands for seafood are taking a toll on nature’s balance. The scientists wonder where all this fish is going to come from. In addition, taking fish from underdeveloped nations poses a threat to local populations who rely on fish as a protein source.

“For many people in developing countries, fish is often their only source of protein. It would be irresponsible for us to ‘triage’ food sources without verifying that fish oil indeed promotes human health,” says UBC fisheries researcher Daniel Pauly.

One challenge is that not all studies show that omega 3 oils are beneficial. Negative studies are seldom discussed. Another includes the fact that research shows that vegetarians do not have a high risk of heart disease, confronting the notion that eating fish is even necessary to reduce cardiovascular disease.

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The scientists say we cannot continue to pillage our oceans. If omega 3 fatty acids really are necessary for human health, we need to look for it in other places, such as from algae and yeasts. We can no longer continue to ravage our oceans to get enough fish in our diets.

Mr. Mowat, who co-authored the study adds, “In the immediate future, human beings are going to have to find better ways to live. Our rape and pillage of the environment has to end before it becomes our end. The damage we have already done to life in the oceans is a prime example of our idiocy, and a last warning that we had better change our ways.”

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), challenges the notion that eating fish for good health is even necessary. Fish caught in the wild may indeed be healthy, but the authors say we need more proof.

If we consume fish oils to stay healthy, the study also suggests we should look elsewhere for our Omega 3 fatty acids - or suffer the consequences of dying ecosystems.

Only seven days ago we published a news researched by Acta Paediatrica that Intellect Doubles in Teens who Eat Fish

http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/media/releases/2009/mr-09-028.html

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