Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eat More Fish— Live Longer or Die Sooner

Eat Fish (Wikimedia Commons)
We have a problem here: scientists and doctors tell us that eating seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids can extend our lives— while reporter Robert McClure tells us the state of Washington is failing to deal with toxic chemicals in seafood which can shorten our lives.

First the good news: As reported in Science Daily ( Eating Fish Associated With Lower Risk of Dying Among Older Adults: Risk of Dying from Heart Disease Significantly Lowered ), a new study by Harvard School of Public Health and University of Washington researchers found that older adults who had the highest blood levels of the fatty acids found in fish lived, on average, 2.2 years longer than those with lower levels.

On the other hand, Robert McClure at InvestigateWest reported last week ( Business Interests Trump Health Concerns in Fish Consumption Fight ) that state efforts to protect the health of Washington residents who regularly consume dangerous amounts of toxic chemicals in fish from local waterways has been stymied by Boeing and other business interests.

"The problem," McClure writes, “lies in Ecology’s estimate of how much fish people eat. The lower the amount, the more water pollution Ecology can legally allow. So by assuming that people eat the equivalent of just one fish meal per month, Ecology is able to set less stringent pollution limits.”

But: “(T)he state Department of Health advises people to eat fish twice a week, eight times as often as the official estimate of actual consumption. The state knows that some members of Indian tribes, immigrants and other fishermen consume locally caught seafood even more often than that and are therefore at greater risk of cancer, neurological damage and other maladies.:

Does it matter? Of course it does. Will anyone in a position of leadership do anything about re-calibrating these scales of environmental justice? We’ll have to wait to see-- or we can start making more of a ruckus demanding action.

--Mike Sato

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