Epoch Times Botches Brain Health Advice

“Preventing Alzheimer’s: A Mind and Body Approach”

Though refreshing to see an article that encourages readers to take action regarding brain health, the nuanced information The Epoch Times presents about seafood and brain health actually leaves readers more confused.

Lifestyle factors

The article focuses on lifestyle factors that could help prevent types of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, starting with diet.

Unsurprisingly, fish is touted as one of the best foods to include in the diet because omega-3 fatty acids play a profound role in cognitive health.  Dr. Barry Sears tells the Epoch Times, “Once omega-3 fatty acids transfer from the blood into the brain, they become building blocks for a powerful group of hormones that resolve the inflammation that causes various neurological disorders.” The author of the piece, Conan Milner, points out that the Alzheimer’s Association recommends that people include fish in their diet, and notes that, “Fish has been considered a brain food for centuries.”

Any reader, up until this point, would clearly take-away that fish is an important part of a diet that promotes brain health and aims to prevent dementia.

Caveats that ultimately confuse readers

Unfortunately, what follows are caveats that ultimately confuse readers. Dr. Sears warns readers about mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish, going so far to say, “At higher levels, mercury and PCBs can also be toxic, leading to serious health conditions and even death.”

  1. There has never been a case of mercury poisoning from the normal consumption of commercial seafood in a peer-reviewed medical journal in the U.S. In fact, the top 10 consumed species of seafood (which make up 90% of all the seafood Americans eat) have levels of naturally-occurring mercury far below the FDA’s limit for mercury in seafood. Furthermore, countries like Japan consume ten times the amount of seafood per capita than Americans consume – without mercury-related illnesses.
  2. Independent, peer-reviewed research from Harvard University, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports seafood broadly makes up only 9% of the PCBs in the average American diet, while products like vegetables make up 20%. Dr. Sears is far from suggesting consumers eat fewer vegetables in this article, which is curious since they contribute more than double the amount of PCBs to the diet than seafood.

Risk-center Messaging Reduces Fish Consumption

The confusing messaging in this article has the potential to scare people away from fish altogether. According to a peer-reviewed study, risk-centric messaging reduces fish consumption, resulting in an overall reduction in the potential health benefits derived from [omega-3] EPA + DHA.

Epoch Times editors should correct the stanza’s about seafood that contradict ground truth science and confuse readers.