CCF, NFI Blast Piven’s Mercury Toxicity Claim

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
December 22, 2008

The Center for Consumer Freedom and the National Fisheries Institute are calling on actor Jeremy Piven to come clean about why he abruptly left the Broadway show “Speed-the-Plow” last week.

Piven’s physician, Dr. Carlon Colker, medical director of Peak Wellness in Greenwich, Conn., said the “Entourage” star quit the play due to mercury toxicity, resulting from years of regular sushi consumption.

“The entire medical literature doesn’t contain a single documented U.S. case of mercury poisoning from eating fish sold in restaurants and supermarkets,” says David Martosko, CCF’s director of research in Washington, D.C. “Piven isn’t going to change that by making a convenient escape from a job he doesn't like.”

The New York Post reported Friday that Piven was “bored out of his mind” and couldn’t wait to get out of the show.

The nutritional benefits of eating seafood regularly far outweigh the health risks associated with naturally occurring toxins like methylmercury, says Martosko, citing research from the Harvard School of Public Health. He adds that a 160-pound man would have to eat 3.4 pounds of sushi-grade tuna, or 108 pieces of tuna sushi rolls, every week for a lifetime to be at risk of mercury toxicity.

“Piven may not know it, but he’s playing games with Americans’ health,” says Martosko. “Tall tales of mercury poisoning just make Americans afraid to eat fish, and that’s horrible for public health.”

In a press release today, NFI advised reporters and editors nationwide to treat Piven’s mercury toxicity claim with skepticism.

“We already know close to 80 percent of Americans are not eating seafood at least twice per week,” said Jennifer Wilmes, a registered dietitian with NFI.  “Messages that inappropriately scare consumers away from fish because of mercury can do a real disservice to public health. When people eat less seafood, they miss out on a significant disease prevention opportunity.”
 

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