By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
October 21, 2019
I enjoy eating salmon in its smoked form – called nova.
A hot toasty bagel topped with cream cheese and nova… Then a thick slice of onion and a beautiful sliver of tomato…
I just crunch into it… There’s nothing better!
You see, salmon is often celebrated as a healthy source of Omega 3 fats. But, there’s some reason to be wary of the fish you buy at your local grocer’s counter.
It might be a bit “freaky…”
Why? Well, after two decades of debate, the FDA recently approved genetically altered salmon for human consumption.
It means the fish has been altered so it can grow faster and reach maturity sooner. 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.
Researchers have spent (just a little) effort testing the safety of these products. But the studies are very weak and offer no proof the GE salmon is safe for you to eat.
My biggest concern is how these fish carry higher levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1 (insulin-growth factor-1). This hormone is associated with an increased chance of cancer… including cancer of the prostate, breast, colon and lungs.
Now, the FDA will tell you this isn’t a concern… but don’t believe them.
One of the studies showed how levels of growth hormone were a whopping 40% higher in genetically engineered (GE) salmon when compared to their non-GE siblings!
They ignored this evidence because the sample size was way too small – only five GE salmon and seven non-GE salmon.
And when another study tested for the growth hormone IGF-1, they found the GE salmon had values more than 10% above non-GE salmon.
Again, they ignored this evidence because it wasn’t “statistically significant.”
At the same time they admitted how IGF-1 is a “potential hazard for human consumption.”
“Freaky” Salmon May Add to Your Health Problems
Besides the toxic levels of growth hormone, these GE fish have a different nutrient profile than natural salmon.
The FDA claims the nutrient profile of the altered salmon is “not materially different” from other Atlantic salmon in terms of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid levels.
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.
Let’s back up for a moment…
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.
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.
In other words, this freaky fish is more liable to add to your health problems than save you from them.
You Need to Be a Fish Detective
You’re probably wondering how to tell if the fish at your counter is genetically altered…
Well, bad news. There’s no way to tell. Just like other altered foods, the packaging doesn’t have any labeling requirements.
You can be fairly certain it will be farm raised though…
And that’s a whole other problem. Farm raised fish contains hefty doses of antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, dyes and other harmful chemicals. (In fact, about 90% of salmon sold in the U.S. are 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 seriously question any salmon labeled wild during this time.
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.