Monster Seminar Jam - Cardiovascular Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption-Qualitative and Quantitative Risk-Benefit Assessment
Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
Controversy has arisen among the public and in the media regarding the health effects of fish intake in adults. Substantial evidence indicates that fish consumption reduces coronary heart disease mortality, the leading cause of death in developed and most developing nations. Conversely, concerns have grown regarding potential effects of exposure to mercury and other contaminants found in some fish. Because fish consumption appears to have important health benefits in adults, elucidating the relationships between fish intake, mercury and other contaminant exposure, and health risk is of considerable scientific and public health relevance. Modest consumption of fish (e.g., 1-2 servings/wk), especially species higher in the n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), reduces risk of coronary death by 36% (95% confidence interval, 20%-50%; P<.001) and may favorably affect other clinical outcomes. Women of childbearing age and nursing mothers should consume seafood for optimal brain development in their children, limiting intake of only a few selected species. Health effects of low-level methylmercury in adults are not clearly established; methylmercury may modestly decrease the cardiovascular benefits of fish intake. A variety of seafood should be consumed; individuals with very high consumption (e 5 servings/wk) may wish to limit intake of species highest in mercury levels. Levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls in fish are low, and potential carcinogenic and other effects are greatly outweighed by potential benefits of fish intake and should have little impact on individual choices for commercial seafood consumption. (All individuals should consult regional advisories for local sportscaught fish). For major health outcomes among adults, based on both the strength of the evidence and the potential magnitudes of effect, the benefits of fish intake greatly exceed the potential risks. These findings demonstrate that quantitative and comparable assessment of risks and benefits is needed to make informed recommendations about optimal fish consumption. Such evaluation has been limited in the past by widely varying standard methods for assessing nutritional benefits vs. toxicological risks.
Date and Time:
April 8, 2010,
11:00 am - 12:00 pm