By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 4, 2016
- “Freaky fish” is coming to a market near you
- Good fish gone bad
- The best fish money can buy
After two decades of debate, the FDA recently approved genetically altered salmon for human consumption. And in just a few years, you’ll be able to buy this “freaky fish” at your grocer’s fish counter.
Now, it’s not altered to provide you with more nutrients or make it taste better. The entire concept is to make the salmon grow faster and reach maturity earlier. This, of course, will get them to market much more swiftly.
In fact, these salmon can grow to market size in half the time it takes unaltered salmon.
How this fish managed to pass scrutiny is beyond me. At best, the studies are very weak and offer no proof that GE salmon is safe for you to eat.
My biggest concern is that these fish carry higher levels of a growth hormone called insulin-growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This hormone is associated with an increased chance of numerous cancers. In particular, cancers of the prostate, breast, colon and lungs.
Now, the FDA will tell you this isn’t a concern. Don’t believe it.
In one of the studies included in the FDA’s decision-making packet, the levels of growth hormone were a whopping 40% higher in GE salmons when compared to their non-GE siblings. However, the results were deemed insignificant.
How could this happen? Well, the sample size was so small (five GE salmon, seven non-GE salmon) there’s no way anything could be considered significant.
To top it off, all of the samples were well under two ounces. This isn’t even close to the size of a salmon you would buy at market. And it’s ludicrous that the FDA considers this study relative to human risk.
And when another study tested IGF-1 levels, they found the GE salmon had values more than 10% above non-GE salmon.
Again, you’ll hear that this isn’t statistically significant. At the same time, the briefing packet specifically states that IGF-1 “has been considered as a potential hazard for human consumption following increased growth hormone levels in food producing animals.”
The paper also assures us that the nutrient profile of the altered salmon is “not materially different from other Atlantic salmon with respect to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid levels and the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.”
Once again, not true. In fact, if you eat this fish you could really lose all of the omega-3 benefits you were hoping to achieve.
That’s because the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio for GE salmon is 3:6. For farm raised salmon it’s 4:1, which is a little better. But the best, by far, is wild-caught salmon at an amazing 10:4.
Now, the average American eats about 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. That’s a big problem, because excess omega-6s are inflammatory. When you get several times more omega-6s than omega-3s, it puts you at increased risk of many health issues – from heart disease and cancer to arthritis and osteoporosis.
In other words, this freaky fish is more liable to add to your health problems than save you from them.
Will you know if the salmon at your fish counter is altered? Not a chance. Just like other altered foods, the packaging won’t have any labeling requirements.
However, you can rest assured it will be farm raised. So in addition to the risks I’ve already mentioned it will contain hefty doses of antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, dyes and other harmful chemicals. (In fact, about 90% of salmon sold in the U.S. is farm-raised.)
This is one more reason to always buy wild-caught. I personally prefer wild Alaskan salmon. It tastes great, and the omega-3/omega-6 ratio makes it a very healthy food choice.
However, there’s one thing you need to remember. Wild salmon isn’t widely available between November and March. That’s the off-season. So I’d serious question any salmon labeled wild during this time period.
During these months, there are plenty of other wild fish to choose from. Some of the best include halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring.
VMAC Briefing Packet: AquAdvantage Salmon. Sept 2010
Price AJ, et al. Insulin-like growth factor-I concentration and risk of prostate cancer: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Sep;21(9):1531-41.
Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group, et al. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), and breast cancer risk: pooled individual data analysis of 17 prospective studies. Lancet Oncol. 2010 Jun;11(6):530-42.
Rinaldi S, et al. Serum levels of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and colorectal cancer risk: results from the EPIC cohort, plus a meta-analysis of prospective studies.Int J Cancer. 2010 Apr 1;126(7):1702-15.
Yu, H., et al. Spitz, M.R., Mistry, J., Gu, J., Hong, W.K. and X. Wu. 1999. Plasma levels of insulin-like growth factor-I and lung cancer risk: a case-control analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999 Jan 20;91(2):151-6.