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December 1, 2005

Farmed Salmon May Increase Cancer Risk

Topics: Health Issues

Like serving cancer on a plate?


Researchers have found that the contaminant levels in farmed salmon from certain regions of the world increased the risk of cancer enough to outweigh the heart health benefits of salmon. In some cases the toxin levels were so high that people should only eat a single serving once every five months. But this is really not new information, and consumers should have already been aware of the dangers and other insufficiences of farm salmon.

In August of this year, we posted that consumption of farmed salmon at relatively low frequencies has been shown to result in elevated exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds with commensurate elevation in estimates of health risk, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxaphene, dieldrin, dioxins, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers occurred at higher concentrations in European farm-raised salmon than in farmed salmon from North and South America.

The problem lies mostly in what farm raised salmon are fed:

Farm-raised fish are fed pellets of concentrated fish products. These pellets are made by drying and grinding up fish that are picked up in fishing nets but aren't the types of fish people usually eat. Fish bones, skin, and guts are all part of the mix. The resulting pellets include not just the fish parts, but whatever toxins (harmful chemicals) have built up in the fish's body over their lifespan. Some of these toxins come from environmental pollutants and are stored in the fatty part of the fish, right under the skin.

When farm-raised fish are given the concentrated fish pellets, they take in concentrated chemical toxins. When wild "free range" salmon eat the fish that are in their environment, they take in regular levels of toxins (not concentrated). For example, one meal of pellets may contain the dried and compressed body parts and toxins from several whole fish. But the same amount of food for a wild salmon would consist of just a few bites of one fish.

And be sure to keep in mind that while fish farms now contribute a large amount of the fish being consumed, including over 50% of salmon, the bottom line is that wild "free range" fish are superior in many ways to their farm raised counterpart, so you should rely on them as much as possible.

FDA statistics on the nutritional content (protein and fat-ratios) of farm versus wild salmon show that wild salmon have a 20% higher protein content and a 20% lower fat content than farm-raised salmon. And, while farm raised salmon also provide high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, the benefits from these fats are somewhat offset by a higher content of omega-6 fatty acids.

Related and important:
Omega-6 fatty acids cause prostate tumor cell growth in culture
Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Atrial Fibrillation in Coronary Artery Bypass Graft and Pacemaker Patients
Fish oil hope for breast cancer
Update on Essential Fats

Posted by Richard at December 1, 2005 1:17 PM

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