Why Is Fish Bad For You?
Earlier this year I read Dr. Jane Hightower’s Diagnosis: Mercury – Money, Politics & Poison . It recounted the story of how she became an expert on fish and mercury poisoning.
Dr. Hightower describes mercury’s journey from polluted waters to our dinner tables:
Bacteria convert mercury to methylmercury, the form most toxic to people.
Plankton eats the bacteria.
Little fish eat the plankton.
Big fish eat lots of little fish.
People eat the big fish.
In this NutritionFacts video, Dr. Greger expands on the subject by explaining how quickly mercury accumulates in the human body:
“When I think toxic pollutants, the first thing I think of is the aquatic food chain. We know, for example, that giving people even just a seven-ounce portion of a high-mercury fish, like tuna or swordfish, once a week…can quadruple mercury levels in the blood within a few months.”
(Seven ounces is the equivalent of just a can and a half of tuna!)
But mercury isn’t the only thing contaminating fish. Man-made chemicals called xenoestrogens, such as PCBs and pesticides, do as well.
If you’re concerned about dietary pesticide exposure, Dr. Greger warns that fish are responsible for nearly three-quarters of it. They also expose us to highly toxic dioxin, an herbicide and paper-bleaching byproduct.
The good news is that when Dr. Hightower had her mercury-poisoned patients avoid fish for six months, nearly all their symptoms vanished (until they began eating large fish again!)
“Researchers recently looked at 13 over-the-counter children’ dietary supplements containing fish oil to assess potential exposure to PCBs, toxic industrial pollutants that have contaminated our oceans. PCBs were detected in all products.”
“… our job [as doctors] should be to stop highly marketed fish oil supplementation in all of our patients.”
And one Canadian research study found that a group of vegans had lower plasma concentrations of pesticides and PCBs than a group of omnivores.
My conclusion from all this? The best option is to completely avoid fish products!