Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seafood Fear Momgering: The Mercury Myth

The public needs to understand that the media too often engages in fear mongering concerning mercury in seafood. Listen up and stop worrying. The health benefits of seafood consumption far outweigh the risks.

For several years, I have been advising my readers on this issue. In my post Eat More Fish! Significant Health Benefits, I provided information from a Harvard doctor noting studies that showed Omega-3s were the only dietary factor proven to reduce cardio-related deaths, and by as much as one-third. The doctor also discussed that fears of mercury were vastly exaggerated and that the health benefits of seafood outweighed any risk. In follow up articles over the years, such as Rant: Stop Worrying, Seafood is Safe and The Healthiest Food You Can Eat?I have provided information from other experts, supporting these matters.

However, despite the mass of scientific studies into this area, the media often chooses to exaggerate the risks of mercury, to make consumers fearful of eating seafood, As I mentioned in SENA14: How Can We Increase Seafood Consumption in the US?, media stories that discuss the risks of eating seafood outnumber articles about the benefits by about 4 to 1. This is because scary articles get more attention from readers, and thus sell more newspapers and magazines, or gain better ratings. These scary articles are not because the media truly believes mercury is a major threat. This is just about money and consumers need to look beyond the fear mongering.

All consumers should check out a recent article in Forbes, titled The Activist-Led Panic Against Mercury In Fish Is Harming The American Diet and written by Gavin Gibbons, vice president of the National Fisheries Institute. Mr. Gibbons addresses this fear mongering about mercury in seafood and does an excellent job of cutting through the myths. As he rightfully point out, the significant health benefits of seafood are "...based on countless independent, peer-reviewed studies..." 

And as for the potential danger from mercury? "But it’s also true that no published, peer-reviewed scientific study can locate a single case of mercury toxicity from the normal consumption of commercial seafood in the United States. Nor is there any evidence that countries like Japan, where the average consumer eats as much as ten times more seafood than Americans, have suffered from an epidemic of mercury poisoning." 

How many people do you know have died from heart disease, or have serious problems relating from it?  I am sure most everyone knows people negatively affected by cardiovascular disease, and seafood consumption could have reduced the risk for all those people. Nearly 600,000 people die each year due to cardiovascular disease and it is the #1 killer of women. Now, how many people you know who have died from mercury poisoning? I bet you probably don't know anyone. 

Eat more seafood. It is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and its benefits have been scientifically supported by thousands of studies. Do not let the fears of mercury prevent you from consuming seafood. Learn the truth about the risk of mercury, and understand that the benefits of seafood far outweigh any minimal risk from seafood.

And media, stop the fear mongering! Stop it now!

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