​​Researchers Find A Startling Link Between Fish Consumption And A Higher Risk Of Skin Cancer

If you eat fish two or more times a week, you may want to re-think your diet. Results of a new study out of Brown University reveal that consuming two portions of fish a week could put you at greater risk of developing melanoma, a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer, per Bloomberg. These findings go against the recommendations from the National Health Service (NHS), which advises people to eat at least two portions of fish on a weekly basis.

Over 491,000 people from the United States participated in the study. The findings showed that those who ate 42.8 grams of fish a day for a whole week were at a 22% higher risk of developing malignant melanoma compared to those who consumed only 3.2 grams of fish per day. Eunyoung Cho, who authored the study, said the results indicated that there is a connection that requires further investigation. However, he speculated that the results could be due to contaminants in fish. The researchers did not measure the participants for contaminant levels and other factors that may have influenced the results, per Bloomberg.

The pros and cons of eating fish

According to the Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health, fish and seafood are a key part of a well-balanced diet. This is because fish and seafood are packed with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats. Health experts believe fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are especially effective in protecting against the risk of heart disease. Fish and seafood are also rich sources of protein.

Despite there being much to recommend about fish, fewer than a third of Americans include fish in their diets once a week. Additionally, over half hardly eat fish or don't eat fish at all. This could be due to a number of factors, such as the high cost of fish, the effort it takes to prepare it, and concerns about harmful toxins, such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins. High levels of mercury are known to cause nerve damage in adults and negatively impact brain development in a fetus or young child, per the Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health.

If you prefer to avoid fish, Everyday Health notes that you can get omega 3s from plant-based foods, such as kale, spinach, tofu, and walnuts. It also suggests flaxseed oil, which you can easily add to your diet by mixing a tablespoon into your favorite yogurt or cereal.