Eating fish increases your risk of skin cancer, study finds


The Mediterranean diet and other predominantly plant-based diets that replace meat with fish for health reasons can create an unwanted side effect. The knowledge that meat is linked to heart disease has created a generation that regularly eats fish, which doctors and nutritionists have applauded as a healthy choice.

Today, however, due to contaminants such as mercury and other pollutants entering ocean ecosystems, fish carry their own risks and a new study has linked regular fish consumption to an increased risk of malignant melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. The risk of developing melanoma is 22% higher for those who eat the most fish in their diet, according to the study.

Published in the medical journal Causes of Cancer, the review study examined the potential link between fish consumption and melanoma risk, using data from nearly half a million adults. Study subjects were originally part of the Nation Cancer Institute’s NI-AARP Diet and Health Study which recruited people between 1995 and 1996. At the time, the average age of the participants was 62 years old. The original cancer study recorded how often participants ate French fries. fish, tuna and unfried fish and how often they developed cancer.

Using this data, the research team recorded melanoma cases over 15 years by synchronizing the data with cancer registries. To properly assess the data, the researchers noted that the study took into account physical activity levels, smoking history, family history, alcohol consumption, caffeine levels, blood-specific ultraviolet radiation. location and body mass indices.

The study concluded that people who ate an average of 1.5 ounces of fish per day (or 3 ounces every other day, which would be roughly the amount of a tuna salad sandwich) had a 22% higher risk of malignant melanoma – and 28% higher. risk of developing abnormal cells in the outer layers of the skin – than those who did not consume as much fish (about a tenth of an ounce a day on average). The results have serious implications for consumers who, like pescatarians, regularly eat fish for their health,

Human-made pollution could make fish cancerous

The study also looked at the differences between the three categories of fish products consumed by people. More importantly, those who consumed 14.2 grams (0.5 ounces) of tuna had a 20% higher risk of malignant melanoma and a 17% higher risk of stage 0 melanoma than those who consumed 0.3 grams ( 0.01 ounce) of tuna.

Researchers also found that eating unfried fish significantly increased the risk of skin cancer. The study group with a median intake of 17.8 grams (0.62 ounces) showed an 18% higher risk of malignant melanoma and a 25% higher risk of stage 0 cancer. Overall, 5 034 participants in the original data pool developed malignant melanoma and 3,284 were affected by stage 0 cancers.

The study noted that eating unfried fish and tuna was linked to higher spikes in skin cancer risks. Although this study did not examine the exact reason why skin cancer and fish consumption were linked, study author Eunyoung Cho speculates that human-made biocontaminants could cause fish to carry more carcinogens, presenting a higher risk for humans.

“We speculate that our findings could possibly be attributed to contaminants in fish, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, arsenic and mercury,” said Cho, associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the Brown University, in a statement. “Previous research has shown that high fish consumption is associated with higher levels of these contaminants in the body and has identified associations between these contaminants and a higher risk of skin cancer.

“However, we note that our study did not investigate the concentrations of these contaminants in participants’ bodies and therefore further research is needed to confirm this relationship.”

Meat-based diets can lead to cancer

This study joins a growing body of research that links the consumption of foods of animal origin to higher risks of several types of cancers. Last March, another study found that you can reduce your cancer risk by 14% by eliminating meat from your diet. The study found that even a marginal reduction in your meat intake can significantly help reduce your risk of cancer.

The World Health Organization has classified red meat and processed meat as a Class 1 carcinogen, which if eaten daily is as deadly to long-term health as smoking.

“This study adds to a growing body of research supporting the positive and protective effects of a vegetarian diet,” Vegetarian Society chief executive Richard McIlwain said at the time. “With cancer now affecting one in two people across the country, adopting a healthy vegetarian diet can clearly play a role in preventing this disease. Indeed, evidence from previous surveys suggests that a balanced vegetarian diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, in addition to cancers.

Bottom Line: Cutting Out Seafood Could Help Prevent Cancer

This new study establishes a link between fish consumption and higher risks of developing skin cancers – malignant melanoma or stage 0 cancers. The authors of the study suggest that this correlation is probably due to the increase in biocontaminants in the ocean. Fortunately, the plant-based seafood market is growing at an unprecedented rate, with some brands developing completely vegan salmon fillets. To start incorporating plant-based seafood, check out Beet favorite vegan seafood products.

For more plant-based events, check out The Beet’s News articles.

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