December 11, 2018

Fish Oil Craze Wiping Out Rare Shark

The health craze for consuming fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is wiping out the whale shark, a rare species that is vulnerable to extinction. The sharks eat plankton and grow up to 40 feet long. These fish are the biggest fish and shark in the world and are very gentle, and are an internationally-protected endangered species. A factory in China slaughters 600 whale sharks every year, and exports at least 300 tons in oil from the shark livers.

Shrimp Trawling Fishing BoatAn organization in Hong Kong called Wild Life Risk has issued a report about that Chinese factory, located in Zhejiang Province. The agency’s investigation ended in December 2013, and they issued their report January 27, 2014.

The products from this shark are being sold internationally “in contravention of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) regulations, as well as relevant Chinese national laws and regulations. It has further been suggested that the Jiahua Omega-3 pills may contain heavy metals such as methyl-mercury, although this has not yet been independently verified,” according to Wild Life Risk.

A single whale shark sells for $31,000 right off the vessel. A complex web of agents and middlemen are used to sell the fish; some agents may be unaware that they are selling an illegal product.

In addition to the illegality of the fish slaughter, results are mixed about whether fish oil is even good for you. According to Harvard Medical School, a new study by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center linked eating potent fish oil supplements to a 43% increase in prostate cancer risk overall, and a 71% increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer. Blood samples from men who developed prostate cancer while in the fish oil trial had more omega-3 fats than men who didn’t develop the cancer. But other studies have shown no association.

Omega-3 fatty acids must come from our food, since our bodies can’t make the compound.┬áNutrition experts say that it’s more likely that the combination of vitamins, fish fats, minerals, and other trace compounds, along with the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish and in whole foods that provide the health benefits. Taking supplements to “fix” a poor diet just doesn’t work.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that daily treatment with omega-3 fatty acids (also called n-3 fatty acids) did not reduce cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity. And a study from Oregon State University found that omega-3 fatty acids, taken in excess, could actually harm your health. Too much of that nutrient alters your immune system, can reduce your body’s ability to fight pathogens, and can increase the risk of colitis.

So what’s a consumer to do? First of all, read labels. Avoid any product made with whale. And eat whole fish and seafood instead of taking the supplements. The American Heart Association recommends that consumer eat fatty fish at least two times a week.┬áTalk to your doctor or a nutritionist if you are currently taking fish oil supplements, especially if your doctor prescribed them. And remember that you can also get omega-3 fatty acids from other foods. Chia seeds, ground flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, and soy oil are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Comments

  1. Rick Steeb says:

    Too bad hulled hemp seed is so expensive… It has the best EFA content of any foodstuff on Earth.
    Fish extinction over the pursuit of Omega-3… Just one more atrocious product of “Schedule I Cannabis”

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