Confusing, Contradictory Sensation-Seeking. Yup, thats Rodale

Rodale, publisher of Prevention, Mens Health and Womens Health, wants to make it simple for readers:

The news can be confusing and contradictory. … We take the confusion out of understanding your health [and] your environment. And we add a level of common sense and moderation that has been sadly lacking in the current sensation-seeking news landscape.

Yes, health news certainly can be confusing and contradictory when it comes from Rodale. Its seafood articles (here, here and here) are sensationalized, deceptive and sometimes downright wrong. Inflammatory headlines (The Biggest Problem with U.S. Fish) and misleading photos and captions (A moment on your plate a lifetime of insulin shots?) further contribute to Rodales faulty reporting.

It appears editors Emily Main and Leah Zerbe have let their green agendas trump their journalistic duties to convey factual, objective information. Worse, they have refused to correct their errors when we pointed them out. Here are some jaw-dropping examples:

  • Tuna poses a mercury threat.
  • Its a lose-lose when you put orange roughy on your plate. Its one of the most mercury-packed fish on the market.
  • You want to limit lobster meals to fewer than six a month.
  • Mercury is building up in some of Americas favorite seafood dishes as ocean pollution reaches unprecedented levels.
  • “Freshwater fish make up about half of the fish eaten in the U.S. each year.”
  • Mercury contamination can lead to lowered IQ in children, but its also bad for adults.
  • “Choosing sustainably caught, contaminant-free fish could help you stave off diabetes, according to a new study in the journal Diabetes Care.”

Clearly, Rodale prefers scaremongering (to attract more readers, undoubtedly) to educating. Which is why well clarify its bungled seafood advice with the facts:

Tuna is safe. The FDA maintains that canned tuna is beneficial and thus pose[s] no reasonable possibility of injury through at least 24.5 ounces per week. It is also notable for the net effects it produces relative to other fish.

All commercial fish, including tuna, contain mercury in at least trace amounts. The vast majority of the methylmercury found in commercial seafood is organic and caused by underwater volcanic activity; it has been this way for millennia. Still, to ensure that American families do not need to be concerned, the FDA enforces a mercury limit of 1.0 parts per million (ppm), which includes a built-in safety factor of 1,000 percent. Canned light tuna, which contains 0.13 ppm, and canned albacore tuna, which contains 0.35 ppm, are on the FDAs list of fish and shellfish low in mercury.

Mercury levels in fish have remained unchanged over the years. According to the FDA, there are no measurable differences over time in mercury concentrations in commercial fish generally, nor does the FDA database on mercury concentrations in commercial fish reveal a trend toward increasing concentrations. In fact, levels of mercury in commercial seafood are just as they were nearly 100 years ago. As expected, there has also been no change in exposures to organic mercury, e.g., methylmercury in pregnant women over a period of time.

The vast majority of wild-caught commercial seafood comes from the ocean. When activist groups raise concerns about fish safety, theyre referring to fish recreationally caught in local rivers and streams which make up less than one percent of the fish and seafood that Americans consume annually not the commercial ocean fish you order in restaurants and buy at supermarkets. More than 86 percent of the seafood we eat in the U.S. is imported. The seafood that does come from America is primarily from the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and New Englandfisheries that are not primarily fresh water.

Experts recommend that Americans eat more seafood, not less. The USDAs 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) urge the general population to increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.

Fish is essential for babies, children, pregnant women and adults. The omega-3s, selenium and vitamins in fish protect against heart disease, dementia and premature death in adults and boost babies eye development and lead to more favorable child development, including higher IQs. Conclusive evidence even shows that not eating enough fish can cause dangerous health consequences.

Eating seafood could save your life. Fish will protect your heart. Researchers at Harvard University found that some 84,000 cardiac-related deaths could be prevented each year with proper servings of fish in the diet. The American Heart Association has also demonstrated that eating two servings of fish a week contributed to a 36 percent reduction in deaths from a sudden heart attack. And a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine proved that a reduced incidence of major cardiovascular events would occur if people followed a Mediterranean diet, which includes fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

The new study in Diabetes Care is by no means conclusive. But it did find that that the potential adverse effect of mercury exposure, presumably derived from diet, may be attenuated by other nutrients, in particular [omega-3s] and magnesium. Other evidence points to less risk of diabetes with greater fish consumption.

If you really want to make it simple, heres some sound advice: Eat more fish.

And if you want to add a level of common sense? Avoid Rodales articles.