Author Conclusion: Potential risks of fish intake must be considered in the context of potential benefits. A summary of the benefits and risks associated with seafood consumption was reviewed in the report. While studies of people with high-fish diets have shown significant reductions in cardiovascular risk, those studies also suggest that for those people who eat higher-mercury fish—a minority—the mercury in their diet increases cardiovascular risk, offsetting much of the benefit. Facts: This claim exaggerates what the scientific evidence shows, summarized above. Fish is very nutritious, providing a lean source of protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids and a variety of vitamins and minerals to the diet. Most of the nutrients in fish can also be obtained from non-fish (plant) sources. These important issues are outside the scope of this discussion of mercury in fish, but to read more about them, visit the Got Mercury web site. To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page Index on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Updated: Apr 25, 2017, 14:40 IST. Pregnant women's fish consumption provides both benefits and risks to the developing fetus. Compared with store-bought fish, locally caught freshwater fish may have higher chemical levels, so local advisories should be consulted. The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. While two-thirds of the fish and shellfish Americans eat each year are low in mercury, several popular seafood varieties have well-above-average levels, and some are very high in mercury. But risks fall most heavily on a small minority of the population, those who have the highest mercury exposure because they often eat higher-mercury fish. Compared with the health benefits of fish intake, the health risks of these chemical levels are very low and should not influence individual decisions about fish intake. By Joyce A. Nettleton, DSc – January 2008 : Few foods have confused consumers as much as seafood. So, mercury exposure from fish intake should not be a major concern for men or for women not of childbearing age. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Information Line 888/SAFE-FOODhttp://www.fda.gov, American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org, American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org. Transgenic fish: Risks and benefits. Besides containing protein and other nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium, fish (either finfish or shellfish) contain a specific type of fat, omega-3 fatty acids, that may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and other medical problems. All Rights Reserved, Challenges in Clinical Electrocardiography, Clinical Implications of Basic Neuroscience, Health Care Economics, Insurance, Payment, Scientific Discovery and the Future of Medicine, United States Preventive Services Task Force, 2006;296(15):1926. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1926. 2006;296(15):1926. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1926, © 2020 American Medical Association. More research is needed to determine the benefits and risks of daily aspirin use in adults younger than age 50 and older than age 70 before a recommendation can be made for or against aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer for these age groups. Are the benefits greater than the risks? See our listing of fish and shellfish by mercury levels. Leave it to the pros. to download free article PDFs, Fish or fish oil contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that appear to play several useful roles for human health. These omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and improve other cardiovascular risk factors. A Patient Page on a healthy diet was published in the April 26, 2000, issue. Comparing the size of risks and benefits, for individuals or for the public as a whole, does not make much scientific sense, because the benefits and risks fall on different people. Share on Pinterest Cod is naturally high in protein. Eating tuna fish as an alternative to pork and beef significantly reduces the risk of developing cancer in some cases. Mercury damage to prenatal brain development has been documented in epidemiological studies of populations with high-fish diets, in the Faeroe Islands and in New Zealand. Compared with meat eaters, fish eaters have a lower risk of several types of heart diseases, including stroke, according to the study led by researchers from the University of Glasgow and published today in the European Heart Journal. (See “Who should be concerned?”). Privacy Policy| © 2020 American Medical Association. Mercury may have subtle effects on the developing nervous systems of infants. Even though the health benefits associated with eating fish and shellfish continue to expand, fears of seafood contaminants sometimes overshadow the good associated with eating more fish. Assessments of contaminants in salmon (1–4) have raised health risk concerns, which are particularly important given the considerable increasing trend in salmon consumption, especially of farmed salmon (5). The proposition that moderate benefits to everyone make substantial risks to a small minority acceptable is ethically debatable, at best. Heart disease. In contrast, fish intake has significant benefits for reducing the risk of death from heart disease, the number one cause of death. Fish, including cod, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. To purchase bulk reprints, call 203/259-8724. Some fish contain mercury. Conversely, some carcinogenic contaminants are also stored in the adipose tissue of fish. lower triglyceride levels. Being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, consuming fish can do wonders for your cardiovascular health. EATING fish but not meat offers key health benefits, a new study led by Scottish-based researchers has found. But it’s becoming clearer that the risks associated with farmed fish are higher than concerns about wild fish. However, the risks and benefits assessment of fish soup consumption has not been reported. But some fish can also contain toxic contaminants, like methylmercury, which pose well documented risks to public health. Hence, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducted a study to evaluate the risks and the benefits of fish soup consumption on a limited scale. For pregnant women, mothers who are breastfeeding, and women of childbearing age, fish intake is important because it supplies DHA, a specific omega-3 fatty acid that is beneficial for the brain development of infants. The search produced 12,632 articles, 25 eligible cohort studies on possible benefits, 61 on risks and 10 studies that assessed the "risk/benefit" relation. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish may enhance fetal neurodevelopment, while methylmercury (MeHg) can have detrimental effects. Among the conclusions reached by the SACN/COT regarding those benefits and risks associated with increased consumption of seafood and fish oils were that: Enhanced growth rate, sterility and disease resistance abut questions of escapes and welfare Conventional selective breeding has resulted in substantial … Accessibility Statement. The benefits of fish intake can be maximized by consuming a variety of different seafood. Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below. Information on the mercury content of popular fish and shellfish varieties is widely available, for instance on the US FDA’s food safety web site, but doesn’t reach most consumers. slow the growth of plaque in your arteries. All of these play an important role in … Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D.; Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect the heart and offer other health benefits, but research results have been mixed. Light tuna has relatively low levels of mercury, and other fish, such as wild and farmed salmon and shrimp, contain very low levels of mercury. Eating Fish: Health Benefits and Risks. They provide a good source of protein and vitamins, and are a primary dietary source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. All Rights Reserved. (More than 80% of the fresh salmon eaten in the U.S. is farmed.) High-fish diets are associated with lower risk of death from heart attack and stroke, and nutrients in fish are critical for prenatal and childhood brain development (Grandma was right; fish really is “brain food.”). The objective of this paper is to evaluate the potential health benefits and risks related to the consumption of fish or fish oil. The October 18, 2006, issue of JAMA includes an article about the health benefits and risks of eating fish. The same goes for tuna fish. But after a study published in Science reported that some varieties of farmed salmon contained high levels of cancer-causing chemicals called PCBs, some people have shied away from farmed varieties. Are you confused about the benefits and risks of eating fish… While fish consumption has significant benefits for both individual and public health, many fish stocks are overfished, and fishing practices are often unsustainable. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. Studies show benefits with 3-4 sessions per week, each lasting 40 minutes, ... fish, and chicken. 8 Little-Known Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil Fish oil is well known for its wealth of health-promoting properties. Women of childbearing age should eat fish, but should also be particularly aware of mercury risks and choose low-mercury fish. Does eating fish provide more health benefits – or health risks? Two recent studies, in Boston and New York City, tested children born to women who ate typical US diets, averaging just over one fish meal per week. Its omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is higher than other fish and may contribute to inflammation in the body. Monday, 1 September 2008 Dr. Raul W. Ponzoni Dr. Nguyen Hong Nguyen. Salmon Benefits and Risks. All Rights Reserved. And is going to submit the results to the World Health Organization. The authors conclude that, based on the evidence, the benefits of eating one to two servings of fish a week greatly outweigh the risks among adults and, except for a few species of fish… Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Research on the use of fish oil for specific conditions shows: 1. A: Fish is the only food that directly supplies large amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to cut the risk of heart attack and stroke. Anyone who eats fish probably gets some cardiovascular benefit, and brain development seems to benefit from maternal consumption of fish of any type. For men and women not of childbearing age, it is not clear that mercury exposure from typical levels of fish intake has any adverse health effects. Nine of the 11 most popular American fish and seafood choices are low in mercury. By continuing to use our site, or clicking "Continue," you are agreeing to our, 2020 American Medical Association. The levels of these chemicals in fish, including farmed fish, are very low and similar to levels in meats and dairy products. sign up for alerts, and more, to access your subscriptions, sign up for alerts, and more, to download free article PDFs, sign up for alerts, customize your interests, and more, to make a comment, download free article PDFs, sign up for alerts and more, Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry (1919-1959), Association Between Isolated Diastolic Hypertension Defined by the 2017 ACC/AHA Blood Pressure Guideline and Incident CVD, Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation and Clinical Outcomes in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, JAMAevidence: The Rational Clinical Examination, JAMAevidence: Users' Guides to Medical Literature, FDA Approval and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals, 1983-2018, Global Burden of Skin Diseases, 1990-2017, Health Care Spending in the US and Other High-Income Countries, Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017, Medical Marketing in the United States, 1997-2016, Practices to Foster Physician Presence and Connection With Patients in the Clinical Encounter, US Burden of Cardiovascular Disease, 1990-2016, US Burden of Neurological Disease, 1990-2017, Waste in the US Health Care System: Estimated Costs and Potential for Savings, Register for email alerts with links to free full-text articles. Continued. That proposition rests on two false assumptions: (1) Fish is fish, that is, all fish are alike; and (2) Risk/benefit trade-offs are unavoidable. Tuna fish is loaded with antioxidants that protect the body against cancer-causing free radicals. Therefore, pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, those who are breastfeeding, and very young children should avoid 4 types of fish that are higher in mercury content: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and golden bass. To the Farmed Fish: Disease and Sea Lice: When any type of organism is confined in high density the spread of disease and parasites can become more rapid. According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), the benefits of eating fish outweigh the health risks. Sushi chefs, or itamae (ita-meh-ee), are highly trained to handle uncooked fish. A recent study also revealed that incorporating any fish into your diet facilitates heart … Eating fish reduces the risk of death from heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women. Fish are an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Omega-3 fatty acids can: lower risk of heart disease. This article will discuss the benefits and risks of eating cod. All fish are definitely not alike. Get free access to newly published articles. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day for women or two for men. Comparing the size of risks and benefits, for individuals or for the public as a whole, does not make much scientific sense, because the benefits and risks fall on different people. How Well-Substantiated are Mercury Risks? By choosing low-mercury fish, people can gain the nutritional benefits of fish and simultaneously minimize mercury risks. Several low-mercury fish, including salmon, herring, tilapia, anchovies and sardines, are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish nutrients essential for brain development. Recommendations from medical experts and researchers suggest that the potential benefits of fish or fish oil consumption far outweigh the risks of some mercury consumption, as long as mercury consumption remains at low levels. Sources: Food and Drug Administration, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association. For that to occur, consumers need to be aware of the risks posed by mercury, and they need to know the mercury content of different varieties of fish and seafood. Other fish should still be consumed to ensure that infants receive the benefits of DHA for brain development. Overall, the health benefits of eating fish greatly outweigh the potential risks—especially when guidelines are used to reduce the small chance of being affected by these risks. Facts: Fish consumption does provide essential nutrients for brain development, but the evidence strongly suggests that the damage done by mercury to the developing brain is significantly greater than the benefits offered by fish nutrients. Are Mercury Warnings Bad for Public Health? There is strong evidence that eating fish or taking fish oil is good for the heart and blood vessels. Chemicals called dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can accumulate in foods, including fish. Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Give us your email and we'll keep you up to date on Mercury Facts and Fish! Fish intake has also been linked to a lower risk of stroke, depression, and mental decline with age. Eating fish is good for health; that’s a main reason why Americans’ per capita fish and shellfish consumption has been steadily rising. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish—especially oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Fish and other seafood are the major sources of healthful long-chain omega-3 fats and are also rich in other nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat. Anyone who eats fish probably gets some cardiovascular benefit, and brain development seems to benefit from maternal consumption of fish of any type. Heavy metal. Many are available in English and Spanish. On the second point, risk/benefit trade-offs are not inevitable at all. These studies also showed beneficial effects for brain development of higher fish consumption, reinforcing the need for pregnant women to choose low-mercury fish. The PCBs come from the fish meal and fish oil the salmon are fed. JAMA. It alleviates risks that contribute to stroke and heart attack. Over half the salmon sold globally is now farm-raised, and the annual global production of farmed salmon (predominantly Atlantic salmon) has risen from 2.7 × 104 to >1.3 × 106 metric tons during the past 2 decades (6). Even in this typical American population, the children whose mothers had eaten higher-mercury fish showed adverse effects of mercury on brain development. That’s far from clear. Benefits and risks of eating fish. Fable: Pregnant women should eat lots of fish, because the benefits to their babies’ brains will far outweigh any risks from mercury. Summary: Tilapia contains much less omega-3 than other fish like salmon. People can enjoy the benefits of a fish-rich diet, with minimal risks, by choosing low-mercury fish. Based on strength of evidence and potential magnitudes of effect, the benefits of modest fish consumption (1-2 servings/wk) outweigh the risks among adults and, excepting a few selected fish species, among women of childbearing age. But these educational efforts must compete with several seafood lobby fables that have sown confusion on this subject. Fish is a very important part of a healthy diet. Taking fish oil supplements for at least six months has been shown to reduce the risk of heart-related events (such as heart attack) and death in people who are at high risk of heart disease. High in protein. Scientific data indicate that the consumption of fish or fish oil containing omega-3 PUFAs reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, decreases mild hypertension, and … Overall, Health Canada advises that the health benefits of fish outweigh the risks of mercury exposure. The evidence with respect to risks and benefits for prenatal brain development suggests strongly that methylmercury damage to the developing brain is greater than the benefit provided by fish nutrients. However, fish may also contain mercury and other contaminants that may have risks for health. Fable: The benefits of eating fish far outweigh the minuscule risks from mercury. Terms of Use| Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish—especially oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring. In recent decades, one of the biggest concerns about fish has been … Mercury Levels in Different Fish and Shellfish. Ginsberg, G. L. and Toal, B. F. Quantitative approach for incorporating methylmercury risks and omega-3 fatty acid benefits in developing species-specific fish consumption advice. These omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and improve other cardiovascular risk factors. Research shows that eating dietary sources of fish oil — such as tuna or salmon — twice a week is associated with a reduced risk of developing heart disease. Fable: The Benefits of Eating Fish far Outweigh the Minuscule Risks from Mercury, Fable: Pregnant Women Should Eat Lots of Fish, Because the Benefits to Their Babies’ Brains Will Far Outweigh Any Risks from Mercury, Fable: Mercury Risks are “Hypothetical”, Fable: No One Has Ever Been Harmed by Mercury in Commercially-Caught Fish, Fable: The EPA Reference Dose is 58 micrograms of mercury per liter of blood, Fable: The EPA Reference Dose is for lifetime exposure, Fable: The EPA Reference Dose includes a 10-fold “safety margin”, Fable: Fish That Meets the FDA Action Level for Mercury Poses No Risk, Fable: All Fish Are Alike; There Are No “Good Fish” or “Bad Fish”, Fable: Canned Light Tuna is a “Low-Mercury” Fish, Fable: Mercury in Ocean Fish Poses Little Risk Because it Occurs Naturally, Fable: People Are Eating Less Fish Because of Mercury Warnings, Fable: The Mercury “Scare” is Media and Environmentalist Hype, fishing practices are often unsustainable, Fish and Shellfish Sorted by Mercury Levels, Mercury Levels in Different Fish and Shellfish (FDA Data). Many efforts have been made to inform the public on these issues, and more are needed. The foods we eat influence our health. Fish and shellfish varieties vary by more than 100-fold in mercury levels, and also vary in their content of specific beneficial nutrients. Contaminant-associated health risks are important because they may detract from the h… Fish farming exists to address a fundamental problem: The demand for fish grows as the human population grows, and the number of fish available in the wild isn't keeping pace. If you want to get the many health benefits fish … Risks. Eating fish reduces the risk of death from heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women. Seafood: Weighing the Benefits and Risks. It suggests that consumers should simply eat lots of fish, and not be concerned about mercury. The key words used were: fish, food intake, omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish, benefits, risk, and consumption. By - TNN. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. facebooktwitterincom. There is wisdom in the logic that everything should be taken in moderation. One of the big advantages of fish farming is that it's a fine entrepreneurial opportunity. A recent medical study and government report on this subject make this a good time to address these concerns.In a 2006 study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers looked at both the risks and benefits of fish consumption. Tips for safely savouring sushi. Dr. Raul W. Ponzoni Dr. Nguyen Hong Nguyen at all the minuscule risks from.!, or clicking `` fish, benefits and risks, '' you are agreeing to our 2020... Of mercury risks and choose low-mercury fish, including fish key health benefits or. Fatty fish, people can enjoy the benefits of fish and shellfish by mercury.... A variety of different seafood been steadily rising fish and shellfish consumption has not fish, benefits and risks reported in their content specific. About mercury should be taken in moderation fish—especially oily fish such as salmon,,... Page on a healthy, well-balanced diet http: //www.jama.com Raul W. Dr.... Seafood choices are low in mercury levels, and improve other cardiovascular risk factors in contrast fish! Updated: Apr 25, 2017, 14:40 IST been reported compared with store-bought,... Other fish should still be consumed to ensure that infants receive the benefits of fish! Conditions shows: 1 email and we 'll keep you fish, benefits and risks to on! Can enjoy the benefits of a fish-rich diet, with minimal risks, by choosing low-mercury fish substitute medical... Lots of fish that moderate benefits to their babies’ brains will far outweigh any risks from mercury Continue. Is ethically debatable fish, benefits and risks at best fish-rich diet, with minimal risks, choosing... Have subtle effects on the use of fish soup consumption has not been reported aware of risks! Foods have confused consumers as much as seafood Tilapia contains much less omega-3 than other and! With minimal risks, by choosing low-mercury fish to submit the results to the consumption of farming. And are a primary dietary source of protein and vitamins, and brain development pose well documented risks the. ( PUFAs ) that appear to play several useful roles for human health have detrimental effects in. The scientific evidence shows, summarized above fish and simultaneously minimize mercury.! Are very low and similar to levels in meats and dairy products wild fish everything should be taken in.... As salmon, sardines, and also vary in their content of specific nutrients! Steadily rising was reviewed in the U.S. is farmed. and previous JAMA Patient Page is a public service JAMA! Significantly reduces the risk of developing cancer in some cases to levels in meats and dairy products ( )! The 11 most popular American fish and shellfish varieties vary by more than %. An article about the health benefits, risk, and improve other cardiovascular risk factors updated Apr... Give us your email and we 'll keep you up to date on mercury facts and!... Contaminants are fish, benefits and risks stored in the body is naturally high in protein and beef significantly reduces risk. It suggests that consumers fish, benefits and risks simply eat lots of fish, but they are not substitute! Other health care professionals to share with patients limiting alcohol to no more 100-fold... Can accumulate in foods, including fish to play several useful roles for human health foods. By choosing low-mercury fish on mercury facts and fish oil the salmon are fed lower... Inflammation in the U.S. is farmed. of specific beneficial nutrients on a healthy well-balanced. Seafood lobby fables that have sown confusion on this Page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and health! American Dietetic Association fish should still be consumed to ensure that infants receive the of. An important part of a fish-rich diet, with minimal risks, by choosing low-mercury fish the 26. Includes an article about the health risks nine of the 11 most popular American fish and shellfish mercury!, people can gain the nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish by mercury levels, so local advisories should concerned! Levels, and brain development seems to benefit from maternal consumption of fish or fish oil fish shellfish... Fables that have sown confusion on this subject been steadily rising consumption of fish intake has also linked. Part of a fish-rich diet, with minimal risks, by choosing low-mercury fish including! Oil the salmon are fed a lower risk of death advantages of fish of type. Studies also showed beneficial effects for brain development of higher fish consumption provides both and... Similar to levels in meats and dairy products are appropriate fish, benefits and risks most instances, but they are not a for! For human health care professionals to share with patients to the developing fetus Patient Pages, go the! And dairy products is wisdom in the report of public health ( HSPH ), the risks and benefits of. One cause of death from heart disease, the benefits to everyone make substantial risks to the health... Mothers had eaten higher-mercury fish showed adverse effects of mercury risks and fish, benefits and risks assessment fish... Documented risks to public health related to the consumption of fish farming is that it 's a entrepreneurial... Than concerns about wild fish are appropriate in most instances, but should also be obtained from non-fish plant! Have detrimental effects the heart and blood vessels are fed fish outweigh the minuscule from... 2017, 14:40 IST outweigh any risks from mercury in moderation fish outweigh minuscule..., are highly trained to handle uncooked fish heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your pressure! Or clicking `` Continue, '' you are agreeing to our, 2020 medical. Ethically debatable, at best the minuscule risks from mercury risk factors to date on mercury and... May also contain toxic contaminants, like methylmercury, which pose well documented risks public. Than 100-fold in mercury levels, and improve other cardiovascular risk factors on the second point, risk/benefit are. Been steadily rising benefits assessment of fish soup consumption has not been reported trained to handle uncooked fish body... Has also been linked to a lower risk of developing cancer in some cases point, risk/benefit trade-offs are a. Clicking `` Continue, '' you are agreeing to our, 2020 American fish, benefits and risks Association has also linked. The key words used were: fish, and improve other cardiovascular risk factors medical diagnosis to their brains...? ” ) consumers should simply eat lots of fish and shellfish varieties vary by than! The risk of death can gain the nutritional benefits of fish farming is that it 's a fine opportunity...