Fisheries Council of Canada | Essential Research
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Essential Research

A Quantitative Risk-Benefit Analysis of Changes in Population Fish Consumption

American Journal of Preventive MedicineAuthors: Joshua T. Cohen, et al.

Research Group/Institution: Harvard University School of Public Health, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis

Journal: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 2005

Summary: This analysis used an expert panel of scientists to analyze government advice to U.S. consumers regarding fish intake. The study cites that reducing fish intake has an overall negative affect on public health.

Message: The results of the Harvard analysis and investigation reveal that the health benefits of consuming fish – and omega-3 fatty acids – outweigh any potential risks of mercury contamination.



Prenatal Methylmercury Exposure from Ocean Fish Consumption in the Seychelles Child Development StudyAuthors: Gary Meyers, et al.

Research Group/Institution: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Journal: Lancet , June 2003

Summary: In this follow up to a well known study investigating the issue of mercury contamination in fish, the researchers investigated people living in the Republic of Seychelles, an area that relies on fish as a major staple in the diet. The study followed the children of women who consumed a large quantity of fish during their pregnancy, potentially more than ten times what American women typically consume. The children were assessed for a variety of functions including language, motor skills, and cognitive development.

Message: The University of Rochester Medical School study results revealed that the children’s possible exposure to mercury in vitro did not negatively affect brain function and development.


Maternal Fish Consumption, Hair Mercury and Infant Cognition in a U.S. Cohort


Authors: Emily Oken, et al.

Research Group/Institution: Harvard Medical School

Journal: Environmental Health Perspectives, June 2005

Summary: This research focused on the fish consumption of pregnant women and the potential impact on the brain development of the growing fetus. The infants were tested on a number of visual memory tests that are a sign of IQ level. The study authors encourage pregnant women to make healthy dietary choices that include servings of low mercury species of fish each week.

Message: According to the results of the Harvard Medical School study, mothers who consumed more fish during pregnancy had babies who scored higher on cognitive tests.


Fish Intake During Pregnancy and Early Cognitive Development of Offspring


Authors: Julie Daniels, et al.

Research Group/Institution: University of North Carolina, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Journal: Epidemiology, June 2004

Summary: The purpose of this research study was to investigate a potential association between fish intake of pregnant women and the developmental abilities of their children. The study was conducted in Britain with more than 7,000 participants.

Message: The results of the University of North Carolina study indicate that a moderate intake of fish during pregnancy is beneficial for the development of the infant.


Fish Consumption and Stroke Risk in Elderly Individuals: The Cardiovascular Health Study


Authors: Darriush Mozaffarian, et al.

Research Group/Institution: Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Journal: Archives of Internal Medicine, January 2005

Summary: In a study of more than 4,000 adults aged 65 years and older, the authors investigated a potential relationship between risk of stroke and the type of fish eaten. The study participants did not have a prior history of stroke. The results of this research indicate that fish consumption later in life may have positive health benefits in reducing risk of stroke.

Message: For older adults, consuming baked or broiled fish one to four times per week was associated with a decreased risk of stroke, according to a Harvard Medical School study.



Fish Consumption among Healthy Adults is Associated with Decreased Levels of Inflammatory Markers Related to Cardiovascular Disease

American College of Cardiology

Authors: Antonis Zampelas, et al.

Research Group/Institution: Harikopio University, Athens, Greece

Journal: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, July 2005

Summary: This Greek study consisting of more than 2,000 men and women assessed the relationship between fish intake and specific cardiovascular disease markers. The markers measured for cardiovascular disease risk are related to inflammation. The authors also note that omega-3 fatty acids consumed from fish sources may have a greater impact on the inflammatory markers than those found in supplemental form.

Message: The results of the study from a respected Greek university indicate that participants who consumed fish regularly had lower levels of these cardiovascular disease markers.


Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women


Authors: Frank Hu, et al.

Research Group/Institution: Harvard Medical School

Journal: Journal of the American Medical Association, April 2002

Summary: This investigation was part of the well known Nurses’ Health Study, a research project involving more than 80,000 adult female nurses. The results of the study indicated that an increased intake of fish and omega-3 fatty acids is related to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease including death from the disease.

Message: According to Harvard Medical School, women participants who regularly consumed more fish had a lower risk for coronary heart disease when compared to the women who rarely ate fish.


Dietary Supplementation with n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Vitamin E After Myocardial Infarction: Results of the GISSI-Prevenzione Trial


Authors: GISSI-Prevenzione investigators

Research Group/Institution: GISSI Prevenzione Secondary Prevention Trial, Italy

Journal: Lancet, August 1999

Summary: This prevention trial that included more than 11,000 participants is considered one of the standards in research on omega-3 fatty acids. The study investigated the potential impact of omega-3 fatty acids on participants who had recently survived a myocardial infarction or heart attack.

Message: The results of the breakthrough Italian investigation indicate that omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on reducing the risk of death from a heart attack.


Consumption of Fish and n-3 Fatty Acids and Risk of Incident Alzheimer’s Disease

Archives of Neurology

Authors: Martha Claire Morris, et al.

Research Group/Institution: Rush Institute for Healthy Aging

Journal: Archives of Neurology, July 2003

Summary: This research investigation consisted of more than 800 older adult participants not affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The results indicate that regular consumption of fish and the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Message: In a study from Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, participants who consumed fish at least once a week had a much greater risk reduction for Alzheimer’s disease as compared to those participants who ate fish less often or not at all.


Fish, Meat, and Risk of Dementia: Cohort Study


Authors: Pascale Barberger-Gateau, et al.

Research Group/Institution: INSERM, France

Journal: British Medical Journal, October 2002

Summary: In this French study consisting of more than 1,600 older adults without dementia, the frequency of meat consumption, including seafood was measured. The study authors were investigating a possible association between the type of meat consumed and the incidence of dementia.

Message: The results of the French study revealed a significant relationship between an increased consumption of fish or seafood and a decreased incidence of dementia.