Fish is often the best alternative for those trying to stick to a healthy diet. Fish is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and many other nutrients which do more good than harm to our bodies.
Eating more fish protects us from ingesting foods with harmful fats and higher calories. In fact, nutritionists recommend more seafood (and fewer chunk) to improve your diet, and nutrition guidelines promote fish as part of a healthy diet.
Yet a new study in Cancer Causes and Control could just burst the long-held belief. The study suggests a link between eating fish and skin cancer, particularly since the biggest known risk factor for melanoma is not dietary — it’s sun exposure. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer that develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, inside your body, such as in your nose or throat.
Having five or more sunburns in your life doubles your risk of developing melanoma.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is responsible for more than 7,500 deaths in the U.S. each year. And cases are on the rise. In the new study, researchers found a higher risk of melanoma among people who ate the most fish. This study is among the largest and most well-designed to examine this link.
Nearly 500,000 people in six U.S. states completed a dietary questionnaire in 1995 or 1996. The average age of participants was 61 and 60 percent were male. More than 90 percent were white, 4 percent were Black, and 2 percent were Hispanic.
Over the following 15 years, the researchers tallied how many people developed melanoma, and found the following:
The rate of melanoma was 22 percent higher among people reporting eating the most fish (about 2.6 servings per week) compared with those who ate the least (0.2 servings a week, or about one serving every five weeks). Similar trends were noted for intake of tuna.
The risk of precancerous skin changes (called melanoma) rose similarly among those in the group that ate the most fish.
Interestingly, researchers found no increased risk of melanoma among those eating the most fried fish. This is surprising because, if eating fish increases the risk of melanoma as the study suggests, it’s not clear why frying the fish would eliminate the risk.
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