Harvard Women's Health Watch

In Brief: Experts say benefits of eating fish outweigh possible risks

In Brief

Experts say benefits of eating fish outweigh possible risks

The role of fish as a health food is controversial. On the one hand, we hear that it's full of beneficial nutrients and, on the other, that some species contain mercury and other toxins, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Adding to the confusion are arguments over the safety of farm-raised versus wild-caught fish. Two reports, released in October 2006, weighed in on the benefits and risks of eating fish and shellfish.

The Institute of Medicine's (IOM) 450-page Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks reviews the scientific evidence and recommendations from government and private health groups. The other report, published in the Oct. 18, 2006, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is an analysis of studies on fish and health by researchers Dariush Mozaffarian and Eric B. Rimm at the Harvard School of Public Health. The reports differ in emphasis, but they concur in their main conclusion — namely, that the benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks.

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