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Increased fish consumption may cause more harm than good: study

New research led by Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital questions the health benefits of eating fish, especially in light of the depletion of worldwide fish stocks.

Toronto, April 8, 2009

Photo: Wikimedia

New research led by Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital questions the health benefits of eating fish, especially in light of the depletion of worldwide fish stocks.

The study, released March 17, was the effort of scientists from St. Michael’s Hospital, researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre, and well-known author and conservationist Farley Mowat.

“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,” says Dr. Jenkins.

While some studies have shown health benefits from consuming omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, other studies have failed to show significant benefits. However, the negative studies tend to be downplayed by governments and media alike, resulting in increased consumer demand for seafood products.

“But where do we get these fish,” asks Rashid Sumaila, director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC Fisheries Centre and study co-author. “They are increasingly coming from the waters around Africa and other places where food security is a problem.” Researchers warn that this pattern of over consumption is unsustainable.

“In the immediate future, human beings are going to have to find better ways to live, says Farley Mowat. “Our rape and pillage of the environment has to end before it becomes our end.”

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