Media watch: Underneath the oil


April Forristall, assistant editor

Published on
July 20, 2010

Since the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster began in late April, it hasn’t been difficult to find coverage of the seafood industry in the mainstream media. Now that the oil leak has been capped, more stories regarding the safety and health of Gulf seafood in restaurants and supermarkets are being published.

However, oil-related news isn’t the only thing happening in the seafood world right now, and, while getting the word out that Gulf seafood is safe to eat is still extremely important, other stories may not be getting the attention they deserve.

In the past couple of weeks, one new set of dietary recommendations and two new health studies have added to seafood’s healthy profile.

Canadian public-health experts recently released new dietary recommendations, including increased consumption of vitamin D, and various publications picked up the news. Toronto’s Metro News took it a step further, pointing out that “natural sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as catfish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and eel.”

Two new health studies — one that shows seafood consumption may prevent breast cancer and another that links reduced risk of age-related eye disease to a fish-rich diet — received some coverage in the mainstream press.

Reuters picked up on one of the two studies, stating that “older adults who eat fatty fish at least once a week may have lower risk of serious vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.” The piece ran in the Montreal Gazette, among other news outlets.

The Seattle TimesU.S. News & World Report and MSNBC ran stories about the study that found fish-oil supplements may decrease the risk of breast cancer. “In a study of more than 35,000 postmenopausal women, researchers found that those who said they regularly used fish oil supplements were one-third less likely than non-users to develop breast cancer over the next six years.”

Neither of the two studies showed cause-and-effect proof that eating fish minimizes these health risks, but they do add to the growing list of studies in favor of increased seafood consumption.

Let’s hope that these types of stories don’t get buried by the gloom-and-doom stories that the mainstream media tends to favor.

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